$100-Million Funeral Firm Suit Settled

From Associated Press

The world's largest funeral services firm agreed Tuesday to settle a class-action lawsuit by paying $100 million to families whose relatives' remains were dug up and thrown out to make room for new bodies.

The settlement will be presented to Circuit Judge Leonard Fleet, who must approve it.

The settlement would close a lawsuit involving 2,000 Jewish families in Broward County against Houston-based Service Corporation International, which owns two Menorah Gardens cemeteries accused of mishandling remains in Palm Beach and Broward counties.

Plaintiffs' attorney Neal Hirschfeld and SCI spokesman Don Mathis confirmed some settlement details.

"The process had to move along," Mathis said. "We're trying to bring some closure for a lot of families."

The settlement will spell out how the $100 million will be divided and outline a process for deciding individual damages. SCI is already spending several million dollars to reorganize the cemeteries and fix grave markers under a previous agreement with the state.

"The families ... are extremely satisfied that if the court approves the settlement that they will not have to sit through individual trials to be compensated," Hirschfeld said.

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