Family sues cemetery over double burial

April 16, 1996|By Joe Mathews | Joe Mathews,SUN STAFF

The family of John D. Minick, who was buried in Laurel in 1987 in an already-occupied grave, has filed a $15 million lawsuit against Maryland National Memorial Park and its parent company.

The suit, filed last month in Prince George's County Circuit Court, accuses officials of the cemetery along U.S. 1 of intentionally misleading Mr. Minick's widow and other relatives about the contents of gravesite 145 A, in the veterans section of the cemetery. The suits asks for more than $5 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages.

Mack Day, the cemetery's sales director, acknowledged in an interview last year that Maryland National employees knew a body was already buried in the site when Mr. Minick was buried there. He said the first body, tentatively identified as that of William H. Thompson of suburban Virginia, was buried in the wrong grave in 1970 and that cemetery officials did not correct the mistake in 1987.

"It's human error," Mr. Day said. "They made a mistake in 1970, and they did nothing to correct the mistake in 1987."

Mr. Day had no comment yesterday. A call to the New York offices of Hig Corp., which owns the cemetery, were not returned.

Frank Della, a former groundskeeper at the cemetery, alerted the Minicks and the Prince George's County state's attorney to the double burial last fall.

The state's attorney's office is investigating.

Pub Date: 4/16/96

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