How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Dwayne B. Your Own Question
Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 33554
Experience:  Practicing for over 20 years and handled many cases and trials for consumers.
Type Your Consumer Protection Law Question Here...
Dwayne B. is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My daughter died in GA. She dies at home and the law

Customer Question

My daughter died in GA. She dies at home and the law requires that since she was not under direct the care of an MD for the last 12 months, an autopsy must be performed, which I wanted anyway. She had dilated cardiomyopathy which is usually fatal. The GBI has ordered a tox screen. A basic tox screen, all that would have been warranted given her condition, takes about 10 minutes to perform. A detailed tox screen, can take months given their backlog. I requested they send the tox evidence to Anoka County, MN where I live because I knew they could process the evidence much quicker. It has been over 6 weeks and the ME will not return my calls. What should I do next?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They have 2 crime labs in the state that process toxicology. They have a population of 10+million. They have a very high crime rate in the areas that may require tox screening of evidence. Minnesota has 5+million. We have two labs that process tox evidence. Our crime rate is about half theirs, so using math, this equates to 4X as many cases in their labs.
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts.

There is no way to force them to send the toxicology evidence to a lab other than the one they choose and especially not one out of state. Other than that, what do you want to achieve? Once I know that I can point you in the right direction as to your course of action.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Anoka County has a nationally certified crime lab. This is a very rigorous process and achieving it takes several years. I know there is no way to "force" them. But, given the back log and the fact that the people present at the death were never questioned, the autopsy was performed and the body cremated, and the scene was never investigated, isn't it reasonable to ask why anything other than a basic tox screen would be performed especially since the pathologist stated that she had a serious heart condition.We can't settle anything without a certified DC and the mortuary and the sheriff has stated that they have seen it take as much as 6-8 months.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
A nationally certified lab processes evidence for many jurisdictions, not only for their state.
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 1 year ago.

I'm sure the lab is qualified and you can certainly request that they use it but my point is that you can't make them use it. The medical examiner and the local authorities have complete control over what labs they use and there is no way to force them to choose one over another. In theory a judge could issue an order directing them to use a specific one (known as a writ of mandate or a writ of mandamus) but the order would be reversed on appeal because it is within the discretion of the medical examiner.

There is also no way to make them speed up. You might be able to force them to turn over a portion of the evidence to another lab to be tested using some Constitutional argument but I have never seen it done. To have standing to even bring a suit like that you would first have to petition the court to be appointed as executor of the estate.

The other issue is that even if you managed to get some of the evidence and had it submitted to a lab of your testing there is still no way to force the medical examiner to recognize the results of the lab.

I certainly understand why you would question the necessity for the extensive tests and the delay but unless there is some kind of evidence that they are purposely delaying the process there is no method whereby you can do anything that changes their timetable or their choices.

Once they issue their report, if you disagree with it then you can file a declaratory judgment action in court to have the judge make a finding that is different than their's.

Related Consumer Protection Law Questions