Deadline for Filing a Claim Form is September 30, 2005.
Please note that claims postmarked after this date may not be accepted.
Previous Frequently Asked Questions
1. Who Is A Member Of The Menorah Gardens Class Action?
Paraphrasing the order of the Court, the class has been defined as "all persons with burial plots or family members buried at Menorah Gardens and Funeral Chapels located at 21100 West Griffin Road, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, 33332 and 9321 Memorial Park Road, West Palm Beach, Florida 33412."
2. What Is A "Class Action" And Why Is This Case A Class Action?
Class actions are lawsuits in which a large number of people are making similar claims for common injuries. In most cases, it is more economical for both the courts and the parties to have the common issues resolved in one case, as opposed to a multitude of cases. In this way, the duplication of costs and attorneys' fees is avoided. This case arose out of spacing problems at the Menorah Gardens cemeteries. These spacing problems resulted in problems which are common to a significant number of people who own plots at the cemeteries or whose loved ones have been buried at the cemeteries. After satisfying itself that the problems were numerous, that the damages caused by the problems were similar for most of the class members, and that it would be beneficial to all concerned to have these issues resolved in one case, the court certified the case as a class.
3. Who Filed The Class Action?
The Plaintiffs in the class action are Joan Light, Shirley Eisenberg, Carol Prisco and Gloria Zimmer. Through their attorneys, (click here for a description of the attorneys) the class action was filed against the owners of the cemeteries in Broward County, Florida, Circuit Court. The owners consist of a large corporation in Houston, Texas named Service Corporation International, Inc. and its wholly owned Florida subsidiary corporation, SCI Funeral Services of Florida, Inc. Throughout the litigation and in these Frequently Asked Questions, they are referred to as SCI.
4. What Claims Did The Class Representatives File Against SCI?
The class action contained several distinct claims which arose from the same alleged conduct. In layman's terms, the claims were to recover damages for emotional distress associated with the problems created by not having enough space to conduct proper burials, a claim to force SCI to fix the spacing problems, a claim for unfair and deceptive trade practices, a claim for failing to properly maintain the cemeteries as required by Florida regulations and a claim for negligence. After a week long hearing, the Court ruled that a claim for punitive damages should also be allowed.
5. What Happened After The Lawsuit Was Filed?
The lawsuit was filed on December 19, 2001. It was extensively litigated through December 2, 2003, when, on the morning of the trial of a claim arising out of a man being disinterred and discarded in the nearby woods, a settlement was reached of not only that case, but several other similar horrendous cases and the claims of the class.
6. How Are The Class Claims Different From The Other Cases That Were Also Settled?
In some very limited instances, remains were interfered with, commingled or discarded. Those rare cases resulted in separate lawsuits, and those claims were filed separate from those of the class. Out of a total of approximately 30,000 burial plots, only 17 claims were filed by class counsel outside of the class, including those where remains were improperly treated. Class claims arose from spacing problems where there is not enough room to conduct a proper burial; some people are not buried where they contracted for; others arise from there not being enough room to inter a family member next to a deceased family member. By far, those are the claims which the class will compensate.
7. How Much Money Has SCI Agreed To Pay In These Settlements?
This is a three part answer. A total of $100,000,000 has been deposited into trust accounts under the control of the court. $65,000,000 of that amount is being reserved for class claim distribution. The remaining $35,000,000 is being used to resolve a variety of other cases against SCI, including egregious individual claims brought by class counsel and whistle blower cases. In another case, brought by the Florida Attorney General, SCI agreed to pay over $14,000,000; and in the class claim, SCI has agreed to spend whatever it takes to fix the cemetery.
8. Who Gets The Money?
The $65,000,000.00 has been apportioned so that $40,000,000.00 is for compensatory damages and $25,000,000.00 is for punitive damages. The $65,000,000.00 will be available to pay claims of class who suffered cognizable damages and attorneys' fees and costs. The attorneys have asked the court to award a fee based on the number of hours spent on the case, the risk incurred and the reasonable hourly rate that the attorneys charge for their time. It is anticipated that the money from the Attorney General's settlement will be added to the class settlement so that when distributions are made, there will be even more money available.
9. What Is Happening Next?
All class members are being notified as to the necessary steps to be taken in order to submit a claim. No action by class members is necessary except for completion and return of claim forms.
10. How do I obtain a Claim Form?
If you believe you are a Class Member and you have not received a claim form, please contact The Garden City Group, Inc., P.O. Box 8856, Melville, NY 11747-8856. The telephone number is: 1 (866) 808-3581.
11. What is the Garden City Group?
Garden City Group is the company appointed by the court to assist in administering the class action claims. The efficiencies offered by utilizing their services reduce claims administration expenses for the class, thus leaving more money for class distribution.
12. What if My Questions Are Not Answered Here?
You can get answers to additional questions by writing to or calling the Garden City Group. Their address is: Menorah Gardens Class Action Inquiries, The Garden City Group, Inc., P.O. Box 8856, Melville, NY 11747-8856. The telephone number is: 1 (866) 808-3581.
13. Am I Going To Get Money From This Case? When Am I Going To Get Money?
Whether you receive a cash settlement will depend upon the extent your rights have been violated and how many claimants there are. Distributions will be determined by the Examiner and approved by the Court after all claims have been reviewed by the Examiner.
14. Will I Be Able To Find Out The Status Of My Loved One's Remains? When?
Yes. Once your claim has been submitted, the Examiner will conduct an investigation into your individual claim under the supervision of the Blue Ribbon Panel and the Court. You will then be notified of the results of this investigation.
15. Is Menorah Gardens Still In Business? Can I Still Visit The Cemetery?
Yes. SCI continues to operate the two Menorah Gardens cemeteries under direct Court supervision. You are free to visit the cemeteries during regular operating hours.
16. Is My Claim Going To Be Administered Per Surviving Relative Or Per Burial Space?
The Court will determine who will be able to receive the settlement proceeds and will be guided by legal and equitable considerations. Each person who believes they have a claim should individually submit a class action claim form.
17. Are My Future Plots Still Available For My Use?
Yes. However, under the settlement, if your plots are unusable, you will be issued new plots at the expense of SCI. This was one of the substantial provisions of the equitable remedies the class plaintiffs were able to achieve in their negotiations with SCI.
18. I Already Submitted A Claim Form To The Examiner's Office. Do I Still Need To Fill Out And Submit A New Claim Form For The Class Action?
Yes. You will still need to complete a claim form for the class action in order to make your claim. If you have not filled out the Attorney General's claim form, you do not need to do so. The class action settlement has been combined with the Attorney General's settlement and the class action claim form is the only claim form that will be needed for your claim.
19. Do I Need To Send In Supporting Documentation Again For Purposes Of The Class Action Claims Process if I Already Sent In Copies Of All Contracts, Deeds, etc., To The Class Action Attorneys?
No. You will need to fill out a claim form and attach to it all documents required which have not been previously submitted. There is an area on the claim form that you can check off to let us know whether you are sending such documentation now or if you have done so in the past.
20. If I Die Before I Receive Money From The Class Action, Will My Children/Relatives Receive My Portion?
Such occurrences will need to be addressed by the Court on a case by case basis as they arise. If you consider this a likely possibility, then it is highly suggested that you and your family consult an estate planning attorney as soon as possible.
21. Will My Loved One's Body/Bodies Be Disinterred Or Disturbed In Any Way During The Investigation?
Great care will be taken to avoid disturbing interred remains. Typically, examinations involve a procedure called "tapping" or "probing." In this process, a metal probe is tapped into the ground. When the probe hits the outer concrete vault, measurements are made and compared to a surveyed reference point. Investigations are not done by digging, though sometimes, in the process of interring or disinterring a decedent, evidence is discovered which may be used in determining the status of adjoining burials.
22. If I Receive Settlement Funds, Will The Amount Be Taxable By The Government?
You will need to consult your own tax attorney or professional to resolve this question. Class counsel will not offer any advice on this issue as they express no expertise in this area of law.
23. If I Change My Address/Phone Number/Name, Whom Do I Need To Inform?
Garden City Group should be advised of any such changes. They can be reached at: Menorah Gardens Class Action Inquiries, The Garden City Group, Inc., P.O. Box 8856, Melville, NY 11747-8856.
24. When Is The Deadline To Make A Claim?
Please submit your completed claim form as soon as possible so that the Examiner can promptly investigate your potential claim. Your claim form must be postmarked no later than September 30, 2005. If your claim form is not postmarked by September 30, 2005, your claim, if any, will be barred. Your claim forms must be submitted to the Menorah Gardens Class Action Settlement Administrator, The Garden City Group, Inc., P.O. Box 8856, Melville, NY 11747-8856.
25. How Can I Verify That I Am Still A Member Of The Class?
Membership in the class is automatic. You do not need to verify this unless you think you may have already resolved your claim with SCI. If you have settled your claim already, you may still be entitled to share in the equitable portion of the class action settlement agreement.
26. How Many People Are Members Of The Class?
The number of class members will only be known after the claims deadline expires. Claim form must be postmarked no later than September 30, 2005.
27. How Will The Cemetery Be Re-Sanctified?
Once all of the claims have been resolved, re-sanctification will be supervised by the Blue Ribbon Panel, upon which sits the world's foremost recognized expert in Jewish burial law, Rabbi Maurice Lamm.
28. Where Are The Attorneys' Fees Coming From?
A portion of the $65,000,000.00 case settlement will be used to compensate the attorneys for their fees and the costs they have incurred and are expected to incur through the date of re-sanctification and completion of the settlement process.
29. Will I Be Assured That My Loved One's Body Is Where It Is Supposed To Be?
Yes. SCI has undertaken this responsibility, and the Examiner will conduct an investigation into your claim to ensure the location of your loved one.
30. Do I Still Need To Fill Out The Sate of Florida Attorney General's Claim Form?
No. If you have not filled out the Attorney General's claim form, you do not need to do so. The class action settlement has been combined with the Attorney General's settlement and the class action claim form is the only claim form that will be needed for your claim. Claim forms must be postmarked no later than September 30, 2005.
31. The Examiner Told Me That My Loved One's Grave Has No Problems And Has Not Been Disturbed. Would I Still Be Included In The Class Action?
Yes. The issue now becomes whether you will be entitled to any monetary compensation or a share of the punitive damages. That question will only be answered after all claims have been submitted and investigated. Even if no monetary compensation is paid to those who have not been directly affected, the process of re-sanctification and knowledge of where your loved one is buried will be of benefit to all who own plots or whose loved ones are buried at the Menorah Gardens cemeteries.
32. I Cannot Find Any Contracts Or Documents From The Cemetery. Can I Still Be A Part Of The Class Action? How Can I Get Copies Of My Contracts & Deeds etc.? How Do I Find Out Where My Loved One Is Buried?
As long as you can provide reasonable assurances to SCI that you have a right to this information, you should be able to get copies directly from Menorah Gardens. When you call them, please have as much information as possible about the location of your family's plots. Menorah Gardens' phone numbers can be found by clicking here.
33. Do I Need To Send In Any Additional Documents In At This Time?
Yes. Class members must complete and return claim forms with any supporting documentation not previously submitted.
34. I Have Hired A Private Attorney To Investigate My Claims Against Menorah Gardens. May I Remain In or Become A Registrant of the Class Action?
You are a member of the class unless you opted-out or fail to file a claim by the deadline. Claim forms must be postmarked no later than September 30, 2005. If you have private counsel, you should consult with your attorney and not rely exclusively upon any information provided in this FAQ.
35. I Have A Pre-Need Contract With Menorah Gardens. Should I Continue To Make Payments On The Contract?
Yes. Failure to make payments may result in losing title to the plot(s). With the loss of title, you may lose any claim which would otherwise be payable under the class settlement.
36. Can I Get A Copy Of The Settlement Agreement Entered Into Between The Class And SCI?
Yes. Click here to obtain a copy.
37. Why did I receive by mail multiple copies of the Claim Form or Notice?
You need not be concerned, for we have multiple sources for identifying any potential claim or claims. We have attempted to mail documentation directly to each individual so identified. If you received multiple copies of the Notice, please be assured that you will continue to receive all documentation you require to participate in the claims process by mail. Please note that you should complete one claim form for every burial space for which you have a potential claim.
38. What if there appears to be a discrepancy in deadlines or requirements between the various documents listed on this website?
The Notice and the Claim Form have been adopted by Court Order. Thus, the guidelines in the Notice and on the Claim Form will prevail in any discrepancy with other documents.
39. How can I file a claim with the Florida Attorney General's settlement?
In response to your inquiry pertaining to filing a claim with the Attorney General's office, if you have not filled out the Attorney General's claim form, you do not need to do so. The class action settlement has been combined with the Attorney General's settlement and the class action claim form is the only claim form that will be needed for your claim. If you believe you are a Class Member and you have not received a claim form, please contact The Garden City Group, Inc., P.O. Box 8856, Melville, NY 11747-8856. The telephone number is: 1 (866) 808-3581. Claim forms must be postmarked no later than September 30, 2005.