NEWARK, N.J. (CN) – A historic New Jersey cemetery faces a chilling lawsuit that says the bodies there are crushed and buried six-coffins deep to maximize space.
James Malloy, a former member of the burial crew at the Evergreen Cemetery and Crematory in Hillside, filed the complaint on May 8 in Essex County Superior Court.
A veteran of the Vietnam War, Malloy says the “horrible practice of crushing coffins and bodies in the nontitled grave area of the cemetery” became worse when Kenneth Wallace took over as supervisor.
Whenever the crew had trouble stacking coffins, according to the complaint, Wallace would instruct the backhoe driver “to crush the coffins and bodies.”
“Plaintiff recalls Wallace on many occasions hoping (sic) in the backhoe and then beating and crushing the coffins and bodies,” the complaint continues.
Malloy says it was also routine for the cemetery to bury people in black body bags.
“Plaintiff recalls Wallace jumping in the backhoe and repeatedly beating and crushing the bodies in the black body bags,” the complaint states.
Malloy says his pleas to end the gruesome practice fell on deaf ears.
“We have to put in six,” Wallace would say, according the complaint. “Jim you don’t understand we have to put in six; and we must get six in the hole.”
Claiming that this practice of crushing bodies and coffins happened at least once a week, Malloy says he has become an emotional wreck, often thinking “of the poor souls and their families.”
“Plaintiff in his dreams sees body parts and the backhoe crushing the bodies,” the complaint states. “Plaintiff often sees limbs or skulls fall out of the coffins or body bags.”
Despite these circumstances, Malloy says he stayed on the burial crew for seven years “because he is unskilled … and he felt he had no choice because he needed the job to live.”
Wallace allegedly blocked Malloy from returning to work in November 2015. Malloy says he had been out on medical leave since August after a piece of headstone fell on his foot.
Evergreen Cemetery has not yet responded to an email inquiring about the suit. The burial ground itself was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991 and is the final resting place of several former U.S. congressman; Stephen Crane, who authored “The Red Badge of Courage; and at least 75 members of the U.S. Colored Infantry, an all-black regiment who fought for the Union Army during the Civil War.
Malloy seeks damages for violations of New Jersey’s Law Against Discrimination, including retaliation and disability discrimination, as well as emotional distress. He is represented by Robert Smith with Smith Eibeler in Holmdel, New Jersey.