Senate Bill No. 90
(By Senators Ross, Ball, Sharpe, Anderson, Mitchell, Unger,
Hunter and Love)
[Originating in the Committee on the Judiciary;
reported January 19, 2000.]
A BILL to amend article thirteen, chapter thirty-seven of the
code of West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one,
as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated
section eight, relating to graves on private lands;
authorizing certain persons access to cemeteries or grave
sites on private lands; creating cause of action for
injunctive relief; requiring visitors to conduct themselves
in a responsible manner; making persons liable to owners for
damage caused as a result of access; and limiting the use of
motor vehicles on private lands.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That article thirteen, chapter thirty-seven of the code of
West Virginia, one thousand nine hundred thirty-one, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated section
eight, to read as follows:
ARTICLE 13. GRAVES LOCATED UPON PRIVATELY OWNED LANDS.
§37-13-8. Access of certain persons to cemeteries or grave sites
on private lands.
(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the
contrary, any cemetery plot owner, heir or devisee of a deceased
person, family member of a deceased person or person interested
in engaging in genealogy research who has given reasonable notice
to the owner of record or to the occupant of the property, or to
both the owner and the occupant, has the right of reasonable
ingress and egress to a family or private cemetery or grave site
located on private lands. The right of ingress and egress
granted under the provisions of this section shall be reasonable
in light of the sole and intended purposes of visiting or
maintaining the grave site or cemetery or conducting research.
(b) Any person denied reasonable access under the provisions
of this section, including the denial of permission to use
may institute a proceeding in the circuit court
of the county in which the cemetery or grave site is located to
enjoin the owner of the private lands on which the cemetery or
grave site is located, or his or her agent, from denying the person reasonable ingress and egress to the cemetery or grave
site for the purposes provided in subsection (a) of this section.
(c) All persons exercising access to a grave site or
cemetery under the provisions of this section are responsible for
conducting themselves in a manner that does not damage the
private lands or the cemetery or grave site and are liable to the
owner of the private lands for any damage caused as a result of
their access. The access to a cemetery or grave site on private
lands conferred by this section does not include the right to
operate motor vehicles on the private lands, unless there is a
road or adequate right-of-way that permits access by motor
vehicle and the owner has given written permission to use the
road or right-of-way.
(NOTE: This bill would permit access to family or private
cemeteries or grave sites to cemetery plot owners, heirs or
devisees of deceased persons and persons engaging in genealogy
research. Persons denied access after reasonable notice to the
owner or occupant would have a cause of action for injunctive
relief. Persons are liable for any damages resulting from their
access and are prohibited from operating a motor vehicle on the
property unless a road or adequate right-of-way exists and the
owner has given written permission to use it.
This section is new; therefore, strike-throughs and
underscoring have been omitted.