Thursday, May 01, 2014

Court OK's Sale of Mausoleum Space and Headstone Inscriptions By NJ Catholic Cemeteries

In Monument Builders of New Jersey v. Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, (NJ Super., April 29, 2014), a New Jersey trial court upheld the right of the Newark Catholic Archdiocese to sell monument inscription rights and burial rights in mausoleums at Catholic cemeteries. Commercial monument builders argued that the Archdiocese has engaged in unfair competition with them, and that the sale of monuments by the Archdiocese is ultra vires and against public policy. (See prior posting.) The court held first that the state's statutory ban on cemeteries selling monuments or mausoleums is inapplicable to religiously owned cemeteries that restrict burial to members of the religious faith and their families.  Secondly, the court concluded that if the Archdiocese is statutorily authorized to engage in its monument and mausoleum programs, its alleged competitive advantage is irrelevant.  The court went on to conclude that the state's religious corporation law grants the Archdiocese the authority to acquire and install mausoleums and monuments and to sell inscription rights. Newark Star-Ledger reports on the decision.