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Cook County Medical Examiner Sued Over Body Allegedly Misplaced For Months

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Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle departs the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, in Chicago after a news conference where she detailed plans for policy, personnel, and procedural changes within the ME's Office, based on the results of an ongoing internal review of the department. After a run of headlines about stacked bodies in the Cook County morgue, county officials have announced an overhaul of the office amid concerns about the system that allows the medical
Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle departs the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office, Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, in Chicago after a news conference where she detailed plans for policy, personnel, and procedural changes within the ME's Office, based on the results of an ongoing internal review of the department. After a run of headlines about stacked bodies in the Cook County morgue, county officials have announced an overhaul of the office amid concerns about the system that allows the medical

Relatives of an Illinois man say they searched the streets, hung fliers, made countless phone calls and filed a missing person's report during the weeks it took the Cook County medical examiner's office to identify and locate his body.

The family of Brian Warren is suing the agency and St. Bernard Hospital for intentional infliction of distress, CBS Chicago reports. Records show that Warren died in the emergency room at Saint Bernard Hospital on Dec. 29. But his family was reportedly told on multiple occasions between then and Jan. 11 that no one matching Warren's description was at the morgue.

Warren's body was later found there, and the lawsuit alleges that Warren had his wallet and other identifying information when he was taken to the hospital, but the family was never notified, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Warren's family believes his body was among those relatives say were desecrated by severe overcrowding uncovered in the county morgue in January. Photos and reports of the morgue's condition were anonymously leaked, and the resulting outcry prompted the Cook County Board of Commissioners to enact a 60-day maximum storage period for bodies and a 48-hour window for notifying next-of-kin.

In February, the family of another Chicagoan, Carmelita Johnson, filed a lawsuit against the department after her body lay unidentified in the morgue for over a year.

Two weeks ago, Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Nancy Jones announced plans to retire after Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said that in light of the scandal she "expect[ed] people to lose their jobs."

The medical examiner's office has not yet commented on the suit publicly.

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