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Thursday, April 22, 2021

From the desk of Bates County Coroner Greg Mullinax

For Immediate Release.

Today, I requested the help of the Missouri Attorney General with a complaint against the Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office in Kansas City, Missouri.

Since approximately the middle of 2020, I have become increasingly concerned with a practice of that office which directly inhibits the ability of my office to fulfill its statutory obligation to investigate certain deaths. 

As you are aware, often people who suffer a medical event in Bates County are transferred north to hospitals in Kansas City and several of these hospitals are in Jackson County. As you can also imagine, sometimes these individuals unfortunately pass away in those hospitals a short time later.
Missouri law is, in my opinion, very clear on this matter. It states that if a person is transferred to another county and dies there, the coroner from the originating county “shall immediately” be notified by the coroner/Medical Examiner of the county of death; and in some cases is responsible for the death investigation and signing the Death Certificate.
The Jackson County Medical Examiner’s Office has failed to notify me (either immediately, or at all) of such deaths when it is required by law. Furthermore, they have ordered the decedent’s body be released to a funeral home in these cases - not only without my permission, but also without even a notification the death has occurred. 

My attempts to rectify this situation with them have come to no avail, and the dangerous practice continues. I say ‘dangerous’ because as I’m sure you can imagine, this opens the possibility that deaths which should be investigated might not be. This, I will not tolerate.

When I swore an oath to uphold the laws of the State of Missouri, I took it as seriously as I do today. In no situation would I ever disregard Missouri law - so I will not stand by silently while someone else does it, either.

Greg D. Mullinax
Coroner of Bates County