Death certificates being held up by Lubbock ME office controversy

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Lubbock County’s new chief medical examiner told KCBD there are 172 local families waiting to receive death certificates in the wake of the scandal that has rocked the county.

The FBI raided the medical examiner’s office in September after allegations were made of everything from body-part harvesting to illegally conducted autopsies. The Texas Monitor reported that the allegations are holding up dozens of court cases.

Former employees of the medical examiner’s office have raised concerns in court filings about San Diego-based NAAG Pathology Labs, which was hired to run the office by the Lubbock County Commissioners Court in August 2018. A former medical examiner employee filed a lawsuit against NAAG, accusing the company of taking body parts for research purposes and alleging that CEO Evan Matshes couldn’t legally conduct autopsies in Lubbock County because he isn’t a licensed physician in Texas.

Dr. John Lang, appointed Lubbock County’s chief medical examiner a month ago, said he can’t complete cases to issue death certificates because many autopsy reports are missing. That was previously handled by NAAG before the county severed the contract with the company.

“The fact that this is going on, I’m just flabbergasted,” Lang told KCBD. “Words fail me that this has been allowed to happen.”

County Commissioner Jason Corley told the TV station that NAAG took all 172 incomplete cases to its headquarters when the contract ended. That includes autopsy notes, tissues and test results.

“Those notes are Lubbock County property and we expect those to be returned to us,” he told KCBD.

NAAG told the TV station that completing the cases would require more time and money, but Corley said the county has already paid for those cases to be completed.

Corley said that if NAAG doesn’t comply he will ask the district attorney to become involved.

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