NJ family suing NC over medical examiner's mistake
Posted April 30, 2013
Updated May 1, 2013
Hillsborough, N.C. — North Carolina's longtime chief medical examiner said Tuesday that shipping the wrong corpse to a New Jersey funeral home five years ago was an innocent mistake by a medical examiner in Guilford County.
Dr. John Butts, who retired in 2010, testified in a state Industrial Commission hearing into a lawsuit against the state Department of Health and Human Services and what is now known as the Department of Public Safety. The Industrial Commission handles all tort claims against the state.
Lorraine Young and two friends were killed in a Sept. 15, 2008, car wreck in Guilford County, but the Young family said that, as they prepared for a funeral, they were horrified to find that one of the other women's bodies was sent to the funeral home.
"I don't feel a full investigation was conducted," Young's brother, Edward Young, said Wednesday. "People need to be held accountable for their lack of action."
Butts said, however, that the local medical examiner handled the case appropriately because there was no reason for him to conduct autopsies. Paramedics had identified each of the three accident victims, tagged the bodies and filled out the appropriate paperwork before sending the bodies to the morgue, he said.
The hearing is expected to continue Wednesday in Orange County.