The Dix Hills Jewish Center is facing a $25,000 lawsuit after the temple allegedly double sold a family's cemetery plots to two other people.
Cynthia Hornig describes her father, Richard Schultz who died of pancreatic cancer on January 31, as someone “bigger than life.” In an essay she wrote about her family’s tragedy, she describes Schultz as a caring husband, loving father and doting grandfather, as well as a friend and colleague to many. Having been diagnosed just five months prior to his death, Hornig’s close-knit family was “beyond devastated,” she wrote.
Despite the loss, Hornig said that she was comforted by the thought that her father was now at peace and would be quickly laid to rest next to his parents’ graves, as he wished. However, when Hornig and her mother, Judith, began to make funeral arrangements, they learned that two strangers were buried in the same cemetery plots her dad had purchased in 1983 from the Dix Hills Jewish Center. She said that her family were members of the temple at the time, and some of the orginal founders.
“The funeral director told us the two plots that were reserved for my Dad and Mom, next to my grandparents, who were already buried in their plots, were occupied. Huh? Did we actually hear what we think we heard, we were exhausted and worn out, there is no way he just told us that someone was buried in my father’s plot, really? Yes, really,” she wrote.
The temple offered two different plots that were available in exchange, but were not in the area where her grandparents were buried, as her father requested while he was alive. To buy two new plots comparable to the previous ones would cost the Schiltz family $5,000 each. The original plots her parents purchased were $450, Hornig said. The temple declined to pay the difference, she added.
“It’s still amazing to me that this happened to my family, all of it… that my father is gone, and that we had to endure this additional, unnecessary grief,” she wrote.
The Dix Hills Jewish Center received the formal complaint filed with the New York State Supreme Court on Wednesday.
“We are investigating the allegations of complaint,” David Goldberg, the attorney representing the temple said. “Because of the litigation, it would be inappropriate to speak on the matter but I am confident that the temple has not done anything improper.”
After working directly with the New Montefiore Cemetery, Richard Schultz was buried in a different section of the graveyard within walking distance to his in-laws' graves.
*This article has been corrected. It was orginally written that Richard Schultz was buried near his parents. He was buried near his wife's parents' graves instead.