Attorneys for ME Andrews, NAAG respond to lawsuits

Attorneys for ME Andrews, NAAG respond to lawsuits

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Dr. Sam Andrews, Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Sam Andrews, Chief Medical Examiner
LUBBOCK, Texas -

Lubbock County Chief Medical Examiner Sam Andrews twice claims he can't be sued as an agent of Lubbock County. Attorneys for NAAG Pathology Labs claim this extends to it, as well, in new court filings. 

In the first response, attorneys for Dr. Andrews and NAAG address a lawsuit filed by an adoptive grandmother in February. Rebecca Villarreal Ortiz says she discovered disturbing details surrounding 10-year-old Elaina Castilleja's autopsy.

Court records show Dr. Sam Andrews ordered forensic pathologist Stephen Pustilnik to perform a standard, complete pediatric forensic autopsy, and preserve the child's brain, spine, lungs, heart and other tissue.

In its answer to Ortiz's lawsuit, attorneys for Andrews and NAAG claim Dr. Pustilnik is the only one responsible for what happened to Elaina Castilleja.

The lawsuit claims Andrews gave a list of suggestions, in accordance with standard autopsy techniques. Attorneys say, as a doctor, Pustilnik was obligated to exercise his own independent professional judgment, and to act ethically.

The response claims, if Pustilnik did anything inappropriate during the autopsy, it had nothing to do with Dr. Andrews or NAAG. They attorneys argue Ortiz's claims of mishandling and interference are Dr. Pustilnik's fault.

Response to second suit

The second lawsuit is from a former employee. Senee Graves is suing for wrongful termination, because she reported organ harvesting practices during child autopsies.

She claims Dr. Evan Matches and Dr. Andrews sent the organs to San Diego to further Matshes' research.

Graves reported these actions to police and County Commissioner Jason Corley. She says these practices didn't happen until NAAG stepped in, with Dr. Andrews and Dr. Matshes changing protocol.

In response, attorneys for Andrews, Matshes and NAAG say Graves lost her job because she was bad at it. 

Attorneys say she gave out details on active investigations. That's against Texas law, the ME's Office procedures and the Lubbock County employment manual.

The court filings also deny Dr. Evan Matshes ever did autopsies. While he's not licensed in Texas, the court filing claims Matshes only assisted under Dr. Andrews' supervision. The responses also insists Matshes did not practice medicine as defined by state law; instead, he was just doing the job of a technician.

The filing also explicitly denies Matshes removed organs or tissues for research purposes. The response claims Graves has no qualification to determine what should be done in an autopsy to determine the cause of death.

In both of these cases, the defendants claim government immunity, preventing NAAG, Andrews and Matshes from being sued.

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