Cemetery won't honor 35-year-old deal

Published On: Jun 20 2012 11:04:10 PM EDT
Updated On: Jun 21 2012 12:32:13 PM EDT

Family members tell us tonight - they have a loved one's body to take care of - but they feel betrayed: the cemetery won't honor a pre-paid plot.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

A family said they were shocked to find a burial plot purchased 35 years ago will no long accept their deceased relative.

The Mack family said they purchased a plot from Restlawn Memorial Park for Lillie Mae Rivers in 1977, but after she died last week, they were told their plot was no longer good.

The family said that even when they produced the deed for the plot that Rivers paid $5,000 for, the cemetery said they must pay the 2012 price for it, $14,000.

"We checked on this back in 2007. We were told that everything was OK," Linda Mack said. "When we met with the funeral director on Monday, he told us she could not be buried there."

Channel 4 learned that Restlawn was sold in 2007 to a nonprofit organization called Southside Christian Charity, which no longer honors the old contract.

"Though we have made much progress, we are still dealing with the ramifications of past business decisions by Restlawn's former owners," wrote Dwann Rollinson, of Southern Christian Charities in an email to Channel 4.

DOCUMENT: Southside Christian Charity's letter to Restlawn customers

The Florida Division of Funeral Services told Channel 4 that because Restlawn was purchased by a nonprofit, the state has no legal standing to force the cemetery owners to honor the 35-year-old contract.

"I was told there was nothing they could do. They said, 'Do not bring her here. She cannot be buried here,'" Jerry Mack said.

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