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Menorah Gardens Cemetery
Introduction from the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies – Cemetery Project

    Founded in 1973, the Menorah Gardens chain bought the suburban Palm Beach Gardens cemetery in 1982 and sold it to SCI of Texas in April 1995.

    Dug-up remains, disturbed markers, and broken vaults were shown on local and national television starting December 20, 2001. Lawyers now seek a class-action suit against the five Menorah Gardens cemeteries in South Florida and their owner, Service Corporation International of Houston, a manager and owner of 460 non-Jewish and Jewish cemeteries and 1,358 funeral homes. SCI is the largest cemetery operator in the United States.

    SCI claims no knowledge and plans to investigate. The State Comptroller’s Office, which monitors cemeteries, and the Florida State Attorney General are investigating allegations against one cemetery in West Palm Beach and one off Griffin Road in Broward County. The allegations include that they sold burial plots with insufficient space, sold the same plots to more than one family, desecrated graves, and disinterred and improperly disposed of bodies. U.S. Rep. Mark Foley, R-Palm Beach Gardens, called for a criminal investigation and contacted U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, Federal Trade Commission Chairman Tim Muris, and Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth. Justice Department spokesman Brian Sierra confirmed that the agency is reviewing Foley’s request.

    By Jan. 4, 2002, the cemetery and its parent corporation are to turn over records to Florida Attorney General Bob Butterworth. Butterworth asked for burial books, burial cards and other records listing who is buried in the cemetery and in which specific plots. The Board of Funeral and Cemetery Services could fine or shut down SCI if allegations prove true. Local rabbis and synagogues are demanding answers.

    The Griffin Road cemetery allegedly has a cordoned-off area with piles of broken vaults that SCI claims are residue of disinterments for interment elsewhere. The lawsuit seeks a court order to stop the alleged cemetery practices immediately and correct existing irregularities. Some family members report fresh mounds of dirt on plots where loved-ones had been buried for years. Others reported that loved ones could not be buried in a plot for which they had paid because someone else also purchased that plot.

    A four-paragraph open letter from SCI in 24 December 2001 Palm Beach Post and other newspapers says, “We extend our heartfelt sympathy and condolences to any families who may have been affected by these accusations. The slightest suggestion that our company would be associated in any way with disrespect for the dead is absolutely intolerable. We consider our work to be a sacred trust.”

Articles about the Menorah Gardens Lawsuit

Ceremony cleansed Menorah Gardens cemetery, rabbi says

Sun Sentinel Jan 27, 2011

After 8 years, 350 victims’ families share $40 million from Menorah Gardens cemetery scandal


Apr 28, 2009

Families still not paid in cemeteries lawsuit

Sun Sentinel Dec 25, 2008

Families still empty-handed after Menorah Gardens cemetery scandal


Dec 22, 2008

West Palm Beach Menorah Gardens Resanctification


May 19, 2008

Menorah Gardens management returns to owner after ’01 scandal

Daily Business Review

May 16, 2008

Menorah Gardens to be rededicated

South Florida Business Journal

May 15, 2008

Everybody Deserves Respect And Dignity

Sun Sentinel May 27, 2006
Settlement near in suit over desecrated graves St. Petersburg Times Oct 27, 2004

Judge To Ok Menorah Gardens Settlement

Sun Sentinel Oct 26, 2004

Judge Considers Settlement Offer From Cemeteries

Sun Sentinel Sep 21, 2004
$65 Million Settlement Agreement in Cemetery Class Action Progresses PRNewswire Jun 3, 2004

Menorah Gardens Charges Dismissed

Sun-Sentinel Apr 2, 2004
Grave Misgivings Miami Daily Business Review Feb 20, 2004

Some Relieved, Some Angry Over Victory

Sun-Sentinel Dec 5, 2003
Menorah Gardens’ parent company settles with families of dead for $100 million Miami Herald Dec 2, 2003
South Florida Trial against Houston-Based Funeral Services Company to Begin South Florida Sun-Sentinel Dec 1, 2003
Ex-supervisor at Menorah cemetery pleads guilty to removing bodies Sun-Sentinel Oct 30, 2003

Burial Case Declared Class Action

Sun-Sentinel Aug 20, 2003
Menorah Gardens Disciplinary Hearing Capitol News Service Jun 26, 2003

Menorah Gardens Lapses Reported

Sun-Sentinel Jun 16, 2003

Cemetery Official: Worker Fired For Grave Desecration

Sun-Sentinel Feb 19, 2003
Menorah Gardens Suit Gets Delayed Sun-Sentinel May 29, 2002
Felony Charges Filed in Menorah Gardens Case; Attorney General, CFO Impose Fine/Restitution/Remedial Action Plan Totaling Up to $14 Million Florida Attorney General May 22, 2003

Dna Links Bones To Burial

Sun-Sentinel Oct 15, 2002

Dispute Over Cemetery Maps Slows Hearing

Sun-Sentinel Sep 6, 2002
Ex-gravedigger: I saw ‘bones flying all over’ St. Petersburg Times Aug 29, 2002
Investors bury funeral giant Houston Business Journal Apr 26, 2002

Families Want To Join State Suit

Sun-Sentinel Apr 5, 2002
Florida adds new lawsuit to cemetery firm’s woes Miami Herald Mar 2, 2002
Funeral Services Provider Charged With Violation At Broward, Palm Beach County Menorah Gardens Cemeteries Florida Attorney General Mar 1, 2002

Appeal Delays Access To Menorah Gardens’ Files

Sun-Sentinel Feb 16, 2002

The Specter Of Menorah Gardens

Sun-Sentinel Jan 17, 2002

Manager Kills Self Over Florida Funeral Scandal

Forward Jan 4, 2002
Florida cemetery controversy could be just tip of the iceberg By Julie Wiener from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Jan 2, 2002
Central figure in cemetery probe found dead CNN  Dec 27, 2001

Families Relate Suspicions About Menorah Gardens

Sun-Sentinel Dec 23, 2001
Families Sue Florida Cemeteries ConsumerAffairs.com Dec 22, 2001
Funeral Company Accused of Desecration New York Times Dec 21, 2001
Gruesome photos, video shows vaults, bodies discarded in woods First Coast News  Dec 20, 2001