The Case of the Double Sold Grave

By Doug Chalgian on June 18, 2023

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We can only speculate about whether Nathan Gathright felt awkward, curious, or took any interest at all in the fact that a strange woman had been planted in the grave next to his, a full 18 years after he had passed on.  What we do know is that when his surviving spouse, Margaret, found out what was going on, she was not happy about it  – not happy at all.

Having purchased the plot next to Nathan (her dead husband) for her own future use, and then discovering that it was occupied by another woman, Margaret hired legal counsel and sued the cemetery for its duplicitous conduct.

But the city-owned cemetery asserted immunity under the Governmental Tort Liability Act (GTLA).  As a result, all of Margaret’s numerous common law tort actions were dismissed.

Only the viability of Margaret’s claim under Prepaid Funeral and Cemetery Sales Act (PFCSA) remained open to debate.  What the trial court concluded, and what the Court of Appeals affirmed, was that the PFCSA operates outside the confines of the GTLA and allows for a governmental agency to be held liable for tortious conduct arising out of matters covered by the Act, offering Margaret a remedy for this wretched wrong.

And that is the rule we take from the unpublished case of Margaret Gathright v Mission Hills Memorial Gardens, Inc. et al.  Click on the name to read the opinion.



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mm By: Doug Chalgian
Doug Chalgian

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