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Grand View is settled

Judge finalizes $3.8M award in class-action suit against the cemetery.

March 10, 2010|By Melanie Hicken

GLENDALE — A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge approved a $3.8-million settlement in the long-standing class-action lawsuit against Grand View Memorial Park, which has had limited public access for years.

Superior Court Judge Anthony Mohr on Friday finalized the preliminary agreement reached last year, including $500,000 for the restoration of the cemetery, which had fallen into disrepair and prompted officials to curtail public access in response to fears that the property wasn’t safe for visitors.

The judgment included $1.1 million in attorney compensation, with the rest set to be divided among the estimated 2,500 to 3,000 claimants, who have direct relatives buried in the cemetery.

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David Baum, attorney for the cemetery’s owner, Moshe Goldsman, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Paul Ayers, one of the plaintiff attorneys representing the families, will oversee the restoration efforts, to include obtaining original cemetery records, identifying and storing cremated remains in the mausoleum and installing an irrigation system for rehabilitated landscaping.

With the settlement complete, the long-awaited restoration efforts should begin soon, Ayers said.

“For most of the families, it’s not the compensation,” Ayers said. “They want to see the cemetery normalized.”

The lawsuit was filed after October 2005, when state investigators found the remains of 4,000 people who had not been properly buried or disposed of.

In November 2005, state officials removed then-operator Marsha Lee Howard and prohibited the cemetery from conducting any new business.

The lawsuit alleged that remains were put in burial sites already occupied, that others were mixed and that some single-burial plots were converted for multiple burials.

Goldsman closed the cemetery less than a year later due to financial difficulties. With the property faltering, the city stepped in for months to open the cemetery for four hours a week.

In recent years, family members have been able to visit loved ones at the cemetery only every other Sunday and holidays during court-ordered public openings.

The restoration will hopefully make the cemetery ready for purchase by a new owner who can reopen it on a regular basis, Ayers said.

“The big unanswered question is who is going to buy the cemetery,” Ayers said. “But nobody was going to buy it while it was in litigation.”

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