Can St. Matthews Cemetery Be Sued For Moving Graves Without Notifying Families of the Deceased? Did St. Matthews Cemetery Violate New York State Law?

St. Matthews Cemetery in West Seneca, NY is being investigated by the New York State Division of Cemeteries for beginning to move hundreds of graves without notifying family members of the deceased. Over a week after St. Matthews Cemetery began digging up grave sites, family members started to hear through word of mouth that their loved one’s caskets may have been moved.

Attorney Barry Covert was recently interview by WGRZ 2 on Your Side for a report on St. Matthews Cemetery. Continue reading for details on Barry Covert’s legal analysis and click on the video below for WGRZ’s full report, which includes:

  • Reaction from family members who were not aware that the graves of their loved ones were moved;
  • A representative from St. Matthews Cemetery discussing their reason for moving the graves; and
  • Barry Covert providing answers to questions on whether St. Matthews Cemetery broke New York State Law and if families of the deceased have grounds to sue the cemetery for their actions

Legal Analysis on St. Matthews Cemetery

WGRZ 2 on Your Side’s interview with attorney Barry Covert addresses a portion of New York State’s Not-For-Profit Corporation Law, which specifically pertains to when cemeteries are obligated to notify next of kin and which may also provide grounds for legal action against St. Matthews Cemetery.

Do the families of the deceased whose graves were moved have grounds for a lawsuit against St. Matthews Cemetery?

In WGRZ’s report, Barry Covert stated “They are required to give notice to families, to the next of kin, for permission to move the bodies, the graves. If they don’t receive it then they have to go to court.”

WGRZ reports that a representative from St. Matthews Cemetery said there was not enough time to notify families. Would that reasoning hold up in court?

Mr. Covert explained “It’s not a sufficient reason. There are notification requirements and you can certainly have an expedited notification. You can try to call the families immediately.”

Is there an exception to this law?

WGRZ 2 on Your Side’s Jackie Roberts stated in the report that “one exception would be if the cemetery isn’t considered a nonprofit”. However, as reported, St. Matthews Cemetery’s website indicates that it is a not-for-profit.

Additional Information on Cemetery Negligence

The emotional distress a person feels when their loved one’s body is misplaced or otherwise negligently handled is immeasurable. If you have any questions about the information discussed regarding St. Matthews Cemetery, would like to discuss the legal rights of next of kin, or would like a free case review regarding a Cemetery Negligence matter; contact attorney Barry Covert via e-mail at and by phone 716-849-1333, ext. 365 or attorney Dale Bauman via e-mail at and by phone at 716-849-1333, ext. 326.