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TRUMBULL CO. Burial delay prompts lawsuit

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

A funeral director was arrested, and a burial could not proceed.
WARREN -- A family is suing a cemetery and Vienna Township police, saying they interfered with a burial service, delaying it, and had the funeral director arrested.
The conduct of Crown Hill Burial Park Association and its agents, plus the police, "was so extreme and outrageous as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency," the family's lawsuit in Trumbull County Common Pleas Court states.
The case centers on the Dec. 27, 2004, burial of Sara Schaffer, who with her husband Lloyd, also deceased, purchased burial lots in Crown Hill Burial Park in 1953. She died Dec. 21, 2004.
The lawsuit was filed by her adult children: Carolyn Alli of Pinehurst, N.C.; Ann Culver of Defiance; Patricia Poncar of Cortland; and Alan C. Schaffer of San Dimas, Calif. They seek in excess of $150,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.
The family says holding up the burial caused emotional distress, mental anguish and embarrassment.
Named in the case
Named as defendants are: Crown Hill Burial Park Association in care of John R. Moses, statutory agent, Aurora; Lord & amp; Moses LLC in care of Moses, Aurora; Moses of Aurora; and John R. Moses Jr. of Vienna.
Moses Jr., contacted at Crown Hill on Tuesday, said that on the advice of legal counsel, he could not comment.
Also defendants are: Vienna police officers Angela Getsy and Robin Morris; Police Chief David Ovesny; and Vienna Township trustees.
The Crown Hill association runs a cemetery and business at 3966 Warren-Sharon Road, Vienna. The lawsuit says Lord & amp; Moses owns the Crown Hill chapel and Selby-Cole Funeral Home there. John R. Moses is a principal, officer or employee of Crown Hill and Lord & amp; Moses. Moses Jr. is general manager of Crown Hill and also a principal, officer or employee of Lord & amp; Moses.
On Dec. 22, 2004, James McFarland of McFarland Funeral Home delivered to Crown Hill an "interment order and authorization" for the body. On Dec. 27, relatives, friends and guests gathered to attend the funeral and burial. As the hearse arrived at Crown Hill, McFarland presented a "burial transfer permit" to Crown Hill's representatives for the body.
After everyone had arrived, the suit states, Moses and Moses Jr. and Getsy and Morris interfered with the funeral procession, prevented the plaintiffs from entering the cemetery and prevented the burial service.
McFarland and the family members were threatened with arrest for trespassing. Moses, Getsy and Morris "conspired together to cause the funeral director to be placed under arrest, thereby preventing the burial of Sara Schaffer, and the attendant burial services, from going forward."
After this, the family and guests retreated to Avalon Inn where a post-burial luncheon had been arranged. Only later that evening did the defendants permit the burial to proceed "in a sparsely attended ceremony, without the presence of any of the plaintiffs."
The case is assigned to Judge W. Wyatt McKay, and a jury trial is sought. The family has retained Letson, Griffith, Woodall, Lavelle & amp; Rosenberg Co., Warren.