Dr. Evan Matshes, a former forensic pathologist in the Calgary medical examiner’s office. File photo
One of two lawsuits launched against a pair of former Calgary medical examiners, accusing them of being “body snatchers,” has been dismissed by a Texas judge.Media outlets in Lubbock and a press release from a PR firm representing California-based pathology company NAAG Pathology Labs — as well as former Calgary pathologists Dr. Evan Matshes and Dr. Sam Andrews — said a $1-million lawsuit from a former employee of the Lubbock County coroner’s office was tossed out by District Judge Ruben G. Reyes Monday.According to the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, the judge ruled the case launched in February by Tita Senee Graves didn’t establish credible evidence that her accusations had enough merit to take the matter to trial.In her lawsuit, Graves said she was fired for raising concerns over the alleged unnecessary removal of organs and tissue during autopsies on children for “research” purposes without consent from family members.Lawyers representing the pathologists and their company argued in April that neither Graves’ lawsuit nor a second launched by family members of 10-year-old Rebecca Villarreal Ortiz had merit, and should be dismissed. The second action, which seeks “no less than $100,000,” remains before the courts.The pathologists’ legal team argued Graves wasn’t fired for being a whistleblower, but for “misconduct,” including taking photographs during an autopsy that she later deleted after sending them to a pathologist who was not involved in the case.Matshes, who along with Andrews worked in Calgary’s medical examiner’s office for 13 months before leaving in 2011, said the decision supports their contention throughout the turbulent time that they did everything by the book.“Today’s court ruling reinforces and supports the statements we have made regarding this case and the controversy that it has generated throughout the community,” Matshes said in a statement.“Neither Dr. Sam Andrews nor I are engaged in any type of research and have worked diligently to make sure that our autopsies meet the highest standards.”
Dr. Sam Andrews, photographed at his Calgary office in 2009 when he was assistant medical examiner.
Graves’ lawyer, Hayden Hatch, didn’t immediately return a call for comment Monday.The accusations prompted still ongoing investigations by the Texas Rangers and the Texas Medical board into the practices used by the former Calgary medical examiners.Last month, NAAG Pathology Labs, which had been running Lubbock County’s medical examiner’s office on a contract basis, informed county officials that it wouldn’t renew its contracts when they lapse at the end of September, citing concerns that politics could derail their work.Matshes said he hopes the judge’s decision will start to clear the air around the work they do.“The negative publicity that has been purposefully generated has resulted in other litigation as well as investigations of our firm and the Lubbock County Medical Examiner’s office,” he said in a statement.“We hope today’s decision will be the first of many that will end this controversy.”Matshes remains embroiled in a $30-million lawsuit he launched against the province in 2014, claiming the government conspired with former chief medical examiner Dr. Anny Sauvageau to ruin his career by spreading false information about firstname.lastname@example.orgOn Twitter: @ShawnLogan403