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Families Outraged by Cemetery Rules in Tennessee

Once again families are outraged by what they view as asinine cemetery policies. Jennifer Andersen frequently visits New McDonald Eastview Cemetery to pay respects to her deceased father of 13 years. When he passed Andersen and her siblings bought a bench to commemorate their father’s life. They were surprised when they recently visited the cemetery to find the bench removed and sitting outside the gates of the cemetery. Several families have complained of things being removed from gravesites at New McDonald Eastview Cemetery.

The new policy states that only flowers are allowed and must be placed in designated vases. Families are prohibited from placing objects and other decorations on the gravesites. Denise Lee, the president of New McDonald Eastview Cemetery, states, “"We put up a notice last fall that gives them 6 months so they needed to be gone by March 31st and the sign was placed out front so it would be noticed by all and we did not remove them until this week". Therefore, the families were given nearly a year’s notice of the new policy. Lee claims that the reason for the new policy is financial. The cemetery’s revenue is generated by the sale of lots and to encourage the purchase of new lots it wants to keep the graves as neat as possible.

46-2-105 of Tennessee Cemetery and Burial laws states that no person shall willfully destroy, deface, or injure any monument, tomb, gravestone, or other structure place in a cemetery. Violation of this statute is a class E felony. The question is does this statute apply to cemetery policies and if it does would the removal of certain objects and decorations fall within the scope of the statute. The article states that families sign a contract when they purchase a grave plot. It would be important for the families to read through the contract and see if they have a possible breach of contract claim.

Michael Grace

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