Destruction of Gravesite

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Destruction of Gravesite

The church where my father-in-law is buried at a cemetery where the plot was paid for a long time before he was buried 10 years ago. Recently, the church that is next to it has decided to make a committee and implement rules to limit what can adorn the graves. Before giving any notification they removed, destroyed, and killed flower arrangements, benches and monuments on the graves. Recently there has been a letter sent out explaining their intent to continue to remove any and all adornments on the graves, to not allow any arrangements, to not allow any plants near the graves, only a single flower can be placed on the grave and it has to be a fake flower. They stated their religion is the only religion to be allowed to be expressed, and any other grave markers from any other denomination must be removed. What legal action can be taken to prevent further desecration of these graves?

Asked on October 1, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The church is violating the First Amendment freedom of religion by requiring only their religion to be allowed on the graves in the cemetery. A lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment from the court that the church is violating the First Amendment freedom of religion should be filed.
As for the desecration of graves, damages (monetary compensation) are an inadequate remedy because of multiplicity of lawsuits due to continuing desecration and because land is unique.
Since damages are inadequate, the appropriate remedy is an injunction to stop the desecration of graves.


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