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Miami Cemetary Faces Class Action [08/24/2006]
A class action lawsuit was brought against Graceland Memorial Park South, alleging lost bodies, grave desecration, misidentification of graves and insufficient burial spacing.

In addition, cemetery staff allegedly disturbed multiple burials with heavy equipment and probed graves with metal rods on a routine basis, without the permission of the deceased's family members.

In 1986, Alicia Garcia purchased a burial plot for her sister, Eloisa Garcia, at Graceland Memorial Park South.

The Garcia family could not afford a headstone for Eloisa, but Alicia Garcia was allegedly assured by the funeral home that the location of her sister's burial would be accurately recorded by the cemetery and the family would always be able to find the grave.

Graceland, however, operating under the name of Paradise Memorial Gardens, Inc., allegedly had significant record keeping, spacing and quality control problems that would prevent Eloisa's remains from ever being located.

According to the lawsuit, Graceland has no accurate maps or records of the section of the cemetery where Eloisa was buried. In an attempt to locate Eloisa's remains, cemetery staff conducted an extensive search in an area adjacent to where they believed she was located.

They uncovered multiple graves with heavy equipment and probed various burials with metal rods. After desecrating multiple graves, Graceland staff removed the lid of the vault that they assumed contained Eloisa's remains.

The search and inspections were conducted without the permission or consent of any family member.

According to the State of Florida Department of Banking and Finance, Division of Finance, this is not the cemetery's first occurrence.

Findings from examinations of the cemetery between 1993 and 2001 cite numerous occurrences of inconsistent burial records and misidentification of graves. Although fined by the State, the problem was never corrected.

The cemetery has no intention of remedying the situation without court intervention.

The Garcias and the class seek money damages for mental anguish, infliction of emotional distress, gross negligence, and an injunction requiring Graceland to locate the burials and take remedial action to ascertain the location of and disposition of the subject remains and to ensure their proper identification and perpetual care.

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