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Jonestown Massacre Monument Spurs Lawsuit

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on May 13, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A memorial built at Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland over a mass grave interring 409 unidentified victims of the 1978 Jonestown massacre was completed this week.

To the shock of Jynona Norwood, the granite markers not only list cult leader Jim Jones as a victim, but were partially paid for by his son.

She's now suing.

If you were a child of the 80's (or 90's), Jim Jones led a cult, known as the Peoples Temple. Along with over 900 followers, Jones moved to Jonestown, a settlement that he erected in Guyana.

On November 18, 1978, 918 people were killed after drinking cyanide-laced punch. This event is known as the Jonestown massacre.

According to the lawsuit, Jynona Norwood began raising funds to erect a memorial over the mass grave in which 27 members of her family are buried.

She alleges that, on two separate occasions, Evergreen Cemetery orally promised that they would assist her in building her memorial over the grave, reports Courthouse News Service. They then directed her to their preferred vendor, to whom she made a $30,000 deposit.

In March, she learned that the Cemetery had changed its mind, instead giving the space to Jim Jones, Jr.

While oral contracts are generally enforceable, the success of this lawsuit depends on whether the court believes that one existed.

The court will scrutinize the interactions between Norwood and the Cemetery, paying close attention to the events that led her to hire the contractor. If she can show that she only did so because of the Cemetery's directions, she will be well on her way to winning the lawsuit and having her own Jonestown massacre memorial.

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