More Families Consider Filing Suit Against Galilee Cemetery

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(Memphis) More anger from even more grieving families about their nightmares with the owner of Galilee Gardens Cemetery.

Three families hired the Cochran Firm to represent them in a possible lawsuit against Galilee.

They, along with their attorneys, held a news conference Tuesday.

Regina Simmons' mother, Hattie Mae Simmons, was buried there in May of last year.

"Like I said it's unfair to my mother. It's unfair to any family to go through what we're going through. My father, he's sick. He wants to buy a headstone for my mother. Why buy it when we don't know where to put it," Simmons said.

The owner of Galilee Memorial Gardens Cemetery in Bartlett was arrested for allegedly burying multiple bodies in the same graves without proper permission.

Jemar Lambert, 38, is charged with theft of property over $1,000 and abuse of a corpse.

Charles Branch's father was supposedly buried at Galilee in February of 2012.

"It's not about money to us. It's more about is my mother at rest and she's not," Branch said.

It's a similar heartache shared by Angela Watkins. She's wondering where her late father is buried in the cemetery.

"We can't put flowers on his grave. We can't clean his grave cause we don't know where he's at," Watkins said.

Some attorneys say the state was aware years ago that no more bodies should have been buried there.

Elbert Jefferson is an attorney with the Cochran Firm.

"The state says in 2010 there were no more plots for burying individuals at that site. In 2010 it was filled," Jefferson said.

WREG spent the past seven months asking why Galilee was allowed to stay in business?

We told you the owner was indicted last year on charges of theft for reportedly selling burial plots on land not owned by the cemetery in February 2012.

In fact, WREG exchanged several emails with the Tennessee State Department of Commerce and  Insurance dating back to July of last year.

The state at that time would only say, "the fulfillment of existing contractual obligations to perform burials could be permissible.

Soliciting new business for the cemetery would not."

Two weeks later, WREG inquired again and were told "no updates as of today."

WREG checked back again in September and were told 'heading out here in a couple of minutes, but give me a call Monday morning."

In the meantime, burials continued at the cemetery. So, should the state be held responsible, as well?

"That's part of our obligation as attorneys for the clients to search every avenue to determine if there's a viable claim against any entity, any party," Jefferson said.

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