The following comes from a December 17 Los Angeles Daily News article:
A judge will hear further arguments before deciding whether to dismiss a $250 million lawsuit alleging the Archdiocese of Los Angeles broke deals under which a funeral home company leased land at six Catholic cemeteries for its operations.
According to the lawsuit, S.E. Funeral Homes spent about $37 million building funeral homes, chapels, mausoleums and administrative offices on leased land at All Souls Cemetery in Long Beach, Calvary Catholic Cemetery in East Los Angeles, Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City, Queen of Heaven Cemetery in Rowland Heights, San Fernando Mission Cemetery in Mission Hills and Santa Clara Cemetery in Oxnard.
In September 1997, the archdiocese and S.E. Funeral Homes agreed to let the plaintiffs lease land for 40 years to operate chapels and funeral homes at the six cemeteries from January 1998 until December 2038, the suit says.
In September 2014, the archdiocese notified the plaintiff that it was breaking the leases, saying S.E. Funeral Homes’ corporate parent, Stewart Enterprises Inc., agreed to a reverse merger transaction with Service Corp. International without getting their landlord’s permission, the suit alleges.
Archdiocese attorney Stephen Alexander said previously that his clients did not breach the contract.
“We believe our consent was required for a change in control,” Alexander said. “This was a very specific written contract negotiated by the parties.”
The lawsuit states that no such consent was needed if there was an ownership change by the funeral homes.
“The archdiocese’s claim that (S.E. Funeral Homes) needed the archdiocese’s permission is ridiculous, a fiction much like one a greedy landlord designs to cast out a good tenant in order to raise the rent or to put pressure on a lucrative business deal to sweeten the lease’s financial terms,” the suit alleges.