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Nueces County responds to lawsuit arising from Medical Examiner's Office

Nueces County medical examiner's office.jpg
Posted at 7:20 PM, Apr 19, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-19 20:20:01-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Nueces County has responded to the civil lawsuit filed on behalf of 13 families who say the actions of employees of the Nueces County Medical Examiner's Office mean they may never have closure.

In a response to the suit filed Wednesday, attorneys representing Nueces County said the plaintiff had failed to establish a basis for which governmental immunity would be waived.

The response also said plaintiffs had failed to establish an amount sought in damages and requested that any potential judgment be limited.

As KRIS 6 News reported in March, attorneys for plaintiffs, requested a judgment of $150 million be awarded due to the failure of the county to respond by the deadline.

According to the petition and demand for jury trial filed by Gowan Elizondo, LLP and the Law Office of Ralph M. Rodriguez, filed in October 2022, autopsies conducted by former deputy chief M.E. Sandra Lyden "are suspect in their conclusion."

The filing states that Nueces County has a duty to provide safe and responsible services and alleges that the County, the Medical Examiner's Office, and Human Resources Department failed in their duty to do so.

As 6 Investigates has previously reported, Lyden was fired in January after she ruled a 27-year-old woman died as a result of a fractured neck on Jan. 3.

A second autopsy, later done by an independent forensic pathologist, found the woman died of natural causes.

Lyden was found to not have a Texas Medical license and was later arrested. Former Chief ME Adel Shaker was also arrested and charged with 17 violations of the Texas Occupations Code.

The suit alleges the M.E.’s office negligently handled bodies, mutilated some, and death certificates were falsified.

Both parties have also requested the case be presented to a jury.