Andrews v. Ortiz
Andrews v. Ortiz (Texas Court of Appeals, 7th District, September 1, 2020) – A Texas appellate court declined to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the grandmother of a deceased 10-year-old girl against Lubbock County’s Chief Medical Examiner, Sam Andrews. The lawsuit accused Andrews of 1) “mishandling of remains,” 2) interfering “with [the grandmother’s] right to possession [of her grand-daughter’s remains] for final disposition,” 3) committing “civil theft and conversion,” and 4) engaging in a “civil conspiracy,” noting that Andrews had regularly harvested organs (e.g., brain, eyes, spine, lungs, and heart) of dead children without permission in order to further a colleague’s independent research. The Court reasoned the purpose underlying Andrews’s decision to harvest organs was an issue of fact to be decided by a jury. As a medical examiner, Andrews claimed he was “charged to investigate criminal activity and causes of death related to criminal activity,” but a reasonable factfinder could find his intent was to conduct academic research. Read the full opinion here.