LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - We have new documents in the controversy surrounding the Lubbock County Medical Examiner’s office.
Chief Medical Examiner Sam Andrews, the company that employs him, National Autopsy Assay Group Pathology Labs, and the doctor who runs that company, Evan Matshes filed motions to dismiss two lawsuits filed against them.
As the KCBD Investigates Team reported last year, the medical examiner’s office went through a major shakeup when the county hired a third party (NAAG) to run the office last fall.
Since then, some employees have come forward accusing the new management of unethical and unlawful activity.
One former employee, Senee Graves, and the adopted mother of a child who autopsy was performed under the direction of this new management, Rebecca Ortiz, filed lawsuits against NAAG and the doctors in charge.
In response, NAAG and Doctors Andrews and Matshes have filed motions to dismiss those lawsuits under the Texas Citizens Participation Act, also known as the Texas Anti-SLAPP statute.
In order to succeed on an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss, the defendants must be able to prove the lawsuits are based on, related to, or in response to the defendant’s exercise of the right to free speech, the right to petition, or the right of association.
On the filing of this motion, all discovery in the legal action is suspended until the court has ruled on the motion to dismiss.
We spoke with NAAG spokesman, David Margulies about the new filings.
“NAAG is asking the court to throw out these cases on a number of different grounds. For example, Ms. Graves was a county employee; she did not work for NAAG and that NAAG had no relationship or obligation to Ms. Ortiz. The filing also stresses there was no misconduct involving the operation of the medical examiners’ office by anyone associated with NAAG," Margulies said.
We also spoke with Chad Indermann whose law firm is representing Graves.
“Anti-SLAPP statutes have really recently come into vogue to use them and misapply them in the context outside of defamation type cases,” Indermann said. “It’s really just a frivolous lawsuit. We are not concerned at all."