$100 million class-action lawsuit filed against cemetery, funera - WNEM TV 5

$100 million class-action lawsuit filed against cemetery, funeral home directors

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SHELBY COUNTY, TN -

(WMC-TV) – Accused of losing bodies and stacking bodies on top of one another in burial plots, Galilee Memorial Gardens cemetery and its owners now face a $100 million class-action lawsuit, a source tells Action News 5.

The families behind the lawsuit are not only seeking damages from the cemetery, but also two well-known Memphis funeral homes.

The complaint filed in chancery court Sunday night says anyone with a loved one buried at Galilee Memorial Gardens in the past three years deserves a piece of the $100 million pie.

"It's looking like something out of a horror movie," said Lisa Stringfellow, whose sister, Shiela, died of cancer at age 52. She was buried at the cemetery on July 6, 2013.

Stringfellow has not filed a lawsuit, but she could automatically become part of a group that will.

"What was going on out here was just tragic," said Howard Manis, who represents the two families who filed the complaint, which seeks class-action status in a $100 million lawsuit against the cemetery owners and M.J. Edwards, N.J. Ford, and any other funeral home that contracted business with Galilee Memorial Gardens after December 31, 2010. That is when its business license became invalid.

"Anyone who buried a body out there after that date was doing it in violation of state law," said Manis, who estimates at least 1,000 bodies were buried there in the past three years.

The cost of getting them all proper burials, plus making their families whole, Manis says, justifies class-action status and the damages sought.

"Everyone deserves to be treated in a manner that realizes that these are family members that are there and that they need answers," he said.

"And I need to find out today where is my sister, I need to go to her grave," agreed Stringfellow. "That's like they done killed the dead all over again. And I'm just hurting and suffering and pain, every day of my life."

M.J. Edwards funeral home says the person Action News 5 need to talk to there is out of town. N.J. Ford and Sons Funeral Home says it is just learning about the lawsuit and has no comment at this time.

Click here to read the full class-action complaint against Galilee Memorial Gardens.

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