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John Peterson Files Suit On Behalf Of Elks Against City Hall For Stealing Grave Sites

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, founded in 1868, is a fraternal order represented throughout the United States. According to the Santa Monica Daily Press, a local order of the Elks has filed suit against City Hall, alleging that burial spaces reserved for its brethren in Woodlawn Cemetery were sold to the public.

The complaint, which was filed on April 23 by the Elks in Santa Monica, claims that City Hall co-opted the majority of about 500 spaces in a burial plot deeded to the order 100 years ago. Additionally, 16 non-Elks members have been buried in Block 16, another area of Woodlawn Cemetery on the northeast corner, which was deeded to the order in 1912, and the columbarium, or place to store urns, has had its doors padlocked shut to both the Elks and everyone else. According to attorney Peterson, the Elks have enjoyed these rights for decades and were unable to ignore the City Hall's provocative actions.

City Hall had sent a letter to the Elks informing them that it intended to take all but 50 of the grave sites in Block 16. The Elks contend that the burial spaces belong to the lodge, though they have allowed City Hall to use other spaces on their deeded property. The Elks transferred the property to City Hall with the understanding that the Block 16 spaces will remain as the property of the lodge. The Elks responded to the letter from City Hall, requesting that it not move forward with its plans, which it already did. The lawsuit calls for compensation for the loss of the property, loss of revenue from the spaces, attorney fees, and the cost of the lawsuit.

If the government has violated your rights to property without proper authorization, you may be able to file suit against the agency responsible for the retention of your property rights or the rightful compensation for that property. If you are facing such a situation, experienced Los Angeles eminent domain attorney John S. Peterson of the Peterson Law Group, P.C., can help. Call (213) 236-9720 for a consultation today.

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