Class action lawsuit filed against troubled cemetery - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Class action lawsuit filed against troubled cemetery

By Maira Ansari

(MADISON, Ind.) -- Waterlogged graves, a fire at the cemetery office, and now a class action lawsuit. The problems just keep coming for Grandview Memorial Gardens in Jefferson County, Indiana. Now families who prepaid millions of dollars for services at the cemetery want answers. WAVE 3's Maira Ansari has that story.

The lawsuit focuses on money that should have accumulated over the last 15 years from  people who prepaid for caskets, vaults, gravesites and for opening and closing graves at the cemetery just outside Madison.

Thousands of families are looking for a resolution.

"My father, when he passed away, we had thought he had a prepaid funeral," said Willa Skirvin, whose parents are buried at Grandview.

The class action lawsuit against four banks and past owners of Grandview Memorial Gardens alleges that millions of dollars have been mishandled.

Current cemetery owner Keith Mefford says the past owners are responsible for any mismanaged funds. "It went in multiple different ways," he said. It either, A, when it was received it never got deposited in the account; or B, it was being wrongfully removed from the account."

The funds included money that customers paid in advance for funerals and burial services totaling as much as $4 million, but there's only $100,000 in the cemetery's accounts.

"What we are facing is how are we going to continue to operate with just $100,000 when we owe $3 to $4 million in funds," said Mefford.    

Mefford, who is also a defendant in the lawsuit, says the only way to clean up the mess at the cemetery is hold the past owners responsible. "It's accountability today for the money that is missing and start fresh with new money."

Not knowing how long it will take to finally give peace to their loved ones, families say they just want closure.

"We just want to make sure they are taken care of properly," Skirvin said. "We don't want to have to worry about it."

Jim Holt is one of the principal owners of Madison Funeral Services, and his company is named in the lawsuit. He declined comment for this story.

The lawsuit is asking for the replacement of the missing trust funds and three times the monetary compensation to the customers.

Online Reporter: Maira Ansari

Online Producer: Michael Dever