Suit Filed in Long Island Graveyard Sinkhole Case


It sounds like a bad horror movie plot — a woman goes to visit her parents' grave at sunset and gets trapped in a sinkhole over the grave. Yet this is exactly what happened to one unfortunate New York woman.

The incident unfolded at St. Charles Resurrection cemetery on Long Island on Dec. 19, 2016. She was visiting the grave of her mother and father just before the winter dusk set in. As she bent over to adjust a wreath decorating the grave, her weight shifted and she was swallowed into the grave up to her hips.

Woman couldn't get out of the grave

The horror continued for the 64-year-old woman, as she cracked a tooth on the headstone as she struggled to free herself from the grave. Her calls for help went unheard as the sun slowly sank and darkness descended on the Farmingdale cemetery.

Court documents detail trapped woman's terror

In the petition the woman's attorney later filed with the Queens Supreme Court, she described her "terrifying and traumatizing" ordeal. She seeks $5 million in damages after the episode allegedly left her psychologically unable to return to her parent's gravesite, as well as contending with headaches and nightmares and the fear of walking through open fields.

She also must attend counseling as a result of the disturbing incident, which reportedly happened after gravediggers backfilled the plot next to the woman's parents' grave. This created a space underneath the grassy area, which subsequently collapsed under her weight on her pre-Christmas visit.

Named defendants include the St. Charles Resurrection Cemetery and St. John's Cemetery Corp., which is under the umbrella of the Brooklyn Diocese of the Catholic Church and the entity responsible for the management of the cemetery.

Premises liability laws apply in public spaces

Quite obviously, members of the public should not have to worry about being sucked into a grave when they visit a loved one's final resting place. The same premises liability laws that protect store customers from trip-and-fall injuries in a cluttered store aisle also apply to cemeteries here in the state of New York.

If you are injured in a public area or on private property due to the negligence of another person, you may be able to file a claim for damages for your injuries and other related losses.