BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) - Tuesday night people who showed up for the second town hall meeting about George Washington Carver Memorial Gardens were advised that they may need to file a proof of claim in federal bankruptcy court if they own prepaid plots at the recently closed cemetery,
Attorney James Stewart spoke at the meeting which was organized by State Representative Juandalynn Givan.
Stewart explained that the B10 Proof of Claim form is the one which people with documentation of a claim such as a prepaid burial plot, would need to prove that they are creditors of the cemetery.
A representative from the Alabama Governor's Office, Ross Gunnell, explained to the crowd that they are still evaluating the information which they have received from concerned customers. Gunnell said that the Governor's Office had met with, the Alabama Department of Insurance, and the Alabama Attorney General's Office to discuss the situation.
In light of the bankruptcy court filing, he explained that any actions they might take would be within the constraints of U.S. Bankruptcy Court.
CBS 42 spoke to an attorney who filed suit against the cemetery prior to its closure in mid-September and subsequent bankruptcy filing in early October.
Tyler Vail says his firm was already representing family members with complaints about improper burial dating to 2012, but it now represents dozens of other people. Vail says they've been contacted by probably 200 people since the cemetery closed.
"Now since this kind of abrupt closing that happened a couple of weeks ago we are now representing several dozen other people who are in all kind of, all different categories of potential plaintiffs or claimants now that this is in bankruptcy," said Vail. "We had filed a lawsuit. We were waiting on the answer and a couple of days before the answer was due we get a suggestion of bankruptcy filed by the defendant that basically pulls jurisdiction away from the Circuit Court where we could have a jury trial and continue as normal. Instead we're sucked into this bankruptcy proceeding and it just happened about a week ago so we're kind of on a wait and see basis."
"There's an initial filing of bankruptcy a petition for the filing of bankruptcy, it still hasn't been approved by a judge. What that does is it sets in motion a bunch of deadlines where the debtor, the person filing bankruptcy, has to come forth and show you know so many factors to make sure they fit within this bankruptcy proceeding and a lot of hose filings have to happen by November 4th of this year," said Vail.
Vail said that they plan to ask that the stay be lifted so they can continue with their Circuit Court civil case.
"There are several different types of bankruptcy you know and this is a Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing, meaning you know it’s a business filing meaning they are trying to erase all liability they may have, with them it's even possible that these lawsuits can get wiped away as well. It's not likely, but it is possible. You know obviously we get our say before the judge. We're going to basically petition this judge to lift the stay on the Circuit Court Case Proceeding in Bessemer, petition him to lift the stay which allows us to go back to that court and just continue this discovery process and try to get some answers for these folks," said Vail.
The bankruptcy attorney for George Washington Carver Memorial Gardens, Inc., Fred Garfield, declined to comment on the civil case Wednesday.
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