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Lawsuit: Medical Examiner Had Man's Body, Never Told Family

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The family of a John Doe who went unidentified for several months is now suing the Cook county Medical Examiner's office.

As WBBM Newsradio's Michele Fiore reports, relatives claim they called the medical examiner's office multiple times over the course of 10 days in their attempt to find Brian Warren, who disappeared in December of last year. But they say employees told them they had no one fitting his description.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Michele Fiore reports


The relatives say they did not t know where Warren was after Dec. 28. In point of fact, the very next day, , he was taken in an ambulance to Saint Bernard Hospital, where he died in the emergency room.

But his family was never notified, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday.

The family believes Warren had identification on him at the time of his death that included information about his next of kin, but neither the hospital nor the medical examiner's office contacted family members, the suit said.

Because the family was not told of Warren's death, they filed a missing person's report with police and canvassed the streets looking for him, the suit said.

Each time family members called the medical examiner's office, they were told that Warren's body was not present, that all the unknown bodies had been identified and that if they did not have a case number they would not be able to get further information, according to the suit.

The suit further claims that because of the allegations revealed in January 2012 that the medical examiner's office misplaced and mishandled bodies, there may be evidence that Warren's body was among those mistreated.

The scandal at the Medical Examiner's office made headlines for weeks this past winter, and outraged Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who pushed through new regulations on the office. Also, the Chief Medical Examiner, Dr. Nancy Jones, has been forced out.

The seven-count suit claims damages related to the morgue and hospital's intentional infliction of distress and interference with the family's recovery of the body. In addition to compensation, the suit seeks more than $3 million in punitive damages.

Representatives of Saint Bernard Hospital and Cook County could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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