Cemetery under restraining order

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The State of Alabama took the next step Tuesday in taking possession of the Sunrise Memorial Park on U.S. Hwy. 31.

According to Ragan Ingram, a spokesperson for the Department of Insurance, the state requested a temporary restraining order against the owners of the cemetery from Circuit Judge Edward McFerrin Tuesday afternoon.

&#8220We made our request today before Judge McFerrin and he approved a restraining order,” Ingram said. &#8220He also set a hearing date on the matter in the Butler County Circuit Court.”

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McFerrin will hear the matter at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Sept. 6 in the courtroom.

Ingram also said that anyone with questions should contact the Department of Insurance's Receivership division.

&#8220If they have the deed to their plots, that part of their services are protected,” Ingram said.

On Friday, Ingram could not confirm if the cemetery was shut down or not. However, he did say under Alabama law, if a pre-need provider such as a funeral home, or in this case, a perpetual care cemetery is unable to meet its obligations, then the state takes over.

&#8220If you come in and pay for services in advance and pay the contract in full, it has to be put in a bond, or in most case put into a trust,” he said. &#8220When that doesn't happen, the state steps in and the funeral home or cemetery goes into receivership.”

The hearing on Sept. 6 will determine whether the cemetery will be placed in receivership and if that happens, the state will operate the facility for a time.

In gram said the state would eventually try to sell or rehabilitate the property.

For those who have questions, call the DOL at 334-240-7588.