Lawsuit One Of Many Issues For Oklahoma ME Office

Wednesday, July 29th 2009, 9:26 pm
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TULSA, OK --  There is more to the controversy involving the beleaguered Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office.  The ME's Office is now named in a civil lawsuit, accused of negligence.  A Tulsa-area family is suing the agency and several other companies, because they say their 7-year-old son's body was missing organs.

The reputation of the ME's Office has already taken a brutal beating and the hits seem to keep on coming.

The state medical examiner's office has been under the microscope this year.  And, the intense scrutiny has revealed an organization riddled with problems.  The agency has been audited and investigated by both state and federal officials.

The ME's Office was stripped of its accreditation at the beginning of this month.  Then, there was a grand jury investigation that criticized the agency's management and handling of evidence.  Employees were accused of sexual harassment, sloppy record-keeping and mishandling evidence, even keeping crack pipes and other drug paraphernalia on desks.

Last week, a former chief investigator for the agency, was indicted in Tulsa and Oklahoma Counties.  Kevin Rowland was charged with sexual battery of male and female co-workers.

07/23/2009  Related Story:  Former Medical Examiner Investigator Indicted

After that, both the Tulsa and Oklahoma City branches of the ME's Office were put on lockdown.  Police say the man who took over for Rowland, threatened to shoot up the Tulsa office.

Now, a grieving Tulsa family says their 7-year-old son's body was missing his organs.  They accuse the agency of negligently and improperly releasing the body without the appropriate documentation for the body or the boy's internal organs.

07/29/2009  Related Story: BA Cemetery And Others Sued Over Missing Remains

A spokesperson for the ME's Office said in a statement that it is not their policy to keep organs unless the pathologist believes further testing might be required.  The statement goes on to say they didn't have any documentation that happened in this case.  They also offer their condolences to the Copeland family.