Target 11 Investigation: a grave mistake?

A local woman is taking a cemetery to court over what she is calling a grave mistake.

It began more than a decade ago when her husband passed away and she purchased burial plots.

But now she said the new cemetery owners won’t honor her old agreement.

She reached out to Target 11 Investigator Rick Earle.

“My husband is buried here. I’ll be buried here. That’s our bench. That’s our tree the grandchildren planted,” said Patsy Schaal, who purchased these burial plots at the Mt. Lebanon Cemetery shortly after her husband died in 2013.

Schaal: I raised my family in Mt. Lebanon, so that’s where we wanted to purchase our burial sites.  And I went to Mt. Lebanon cemetery, met some very nice people.

Earle: And found a great spot?

Schaal:  I did, it’s beautiful.

Schaal purchased six plots and a cremation area, enough she said for her entire family.

Schaal and her attorney showed Earle a copy of the agreement from 2013.

“You actually see here where it was actually signed by the sales agent of the cemetery, and it was also signed by the groundskeeper for the cemetery.  You can see where it has the dimensions for plots,” said Attorney Nick Miller, who’s working with Schaal to rectify the situation.

But during a visit last year, Schaal discovered that a headstone had been placed on her plot.

“I was surprised, and I was concerned because the stone was over onto the area that I considered mine and that fit my measurements that I had been given. So that’s what really started the problem,” said Schaal.

Schaal reached out to the new owners.

She said they told her she didn’t own the land that she thought she had purchased a decade ago.

Schaal: Those aren’t the dimensions. There was a mistake.

Earle: What was your reaction?

Schaal:  I was like stunned.

Schaal told Earle that the new cemetery owner was shortening her plot by about 12 feet.

Schaal said she attempted to work out an agreement, but claims the cemetery wouldn’t budge.

“It’s frustrating. It is anger-producing. It’s frustrating and makes you sad,” said Schaal.

Schaal has now filed a civil lawsuit against Stonemor, the owner of the cemetery.

“They’re trying to say that there are no sizes. They’re trying to say that there are no boundary lines. That there is no actual plot sizes here. That you only have the right to be interred somewhere on the cemetery property,” said Schaal’s attorney Nick Miller.

“I don’t know if the rules changed somewhere along the line, but they changed after I had my agreement, so I don’t know how to explain their behavior,” said Schaal.

Earle went to the cemetery office and the manager said he couldn’t comment on the case.  Earle also reached out to Stonemor, and a spokesperson said the situation is being handled in the court system.

And according to Court documents obtained by Target 11, Stonemor contends Schaal does not own any legal right to property in the cemetery, and that lots do not contain any contractually guaranteed dimensions.

Earle: To you, it’s black and white?

Schaal: To me it’s black and white and I’ve got the papers to establish that with signatures on them. So I’m not sure how they dispute that or argue that point.

Schaal says she isn’t backing down.

“When you get to a certain age you realize your own mortality and I need this settled.  I thought it was settled ten years ago.  So I want this to be settled. I want those areas marked properly,” said Schaal.

As the legal wrangling continues with no apparent resolution in the works, it will likely be up to a jury to decide if there are defined perimeters for those burial plots or not.

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