Newark Archdiocese wins court fight on legality of its headstone, mausoleum business

The Star-Ledger


By Mark Mueller/The Star-Ledger
on April 30, 2014

In a case that could have broad implications for New Jersey’s cemetery industry, a judge has ruled the Archdiocese of Newark did not violate state law when it began marketing headstones and private mausoleums directly to consumers at its Catholic burial grounds.

The decision, released Tuesday in Superior Court in New Brunswick, deals a blow to the state’s headstone dealers, who argued in a lawsuit that Catholic cemeteries should fall under a law explicitly barring nonsectarian cemeteries from selling headstones and private family mausoleums.

The archdiocese became the first cemetery operator in the state, religious or otherwise, to enter the lucrative headstone business in April of last year. Two independent dealers and their trade association, the Monument Builders of New Jersey, filed the lawsuit three months later, saying the new venture would swiftly undercut them and drive them out of business.

On Tuesday, in the wake of the ruling against the dealers, Monument Builders President John Burns Jr. reiterated that prediction of financial ruin and said his group would appeal.

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