Relatives of a man who died from AIDS complications filed a $2 million claim against Spokane County, saying Coroner Dexter Amend left them emotionally traumatized.
Amend delayed Curtis Babcock’s cremation and memorial service while trying to arrange an autopsy to link his death to sodomy, said the family’s attorney.
Attorney David M. Miller filed the claim last week on behalf of Georgia Salcido, Babcock’s sister, and Camilla Babcock, his mother.
An autopsy wasn’t needed because Babcock’s doctor already determined he died from AIDS-related complications, Miller said.
“I think the coroner’s got some type of obsession with gay people,” said Miller. “The coroner’s trying to spend our county money to appease his deviant interest in gay people.”
Through his secretary, Amend refused to comment.
Assistant county attorney Martin Muench, who advises the coroner’s office, said he can’t comment because he hadn’t yet seen the claim.
“Holy cow, that’s a lot of money,” said County Commissioner Steve Hasson, who hadn’t seen the claim. “That’s very unsettling for the board. We’re trying to run this county on a wing and a promise.”
Babcock’s body was taken to Hazen & Jaeger Funeral Home after the 39-year-old cosmetologist died at home Nov. 8. Salcido requested cremation so she could take the remains to Montana, Babcock’s home state, for a memorial service.
That’s when Amend intervened, according to the claim. Amend had Babcock’s body moved from the funeral home to the county morgue. He requested an autopsy, with emphasis on examining the rectal region.
Forensic pathologist George Lindholm refused to do an autopsy or take a blood sample, saying there was no valid scientific reason, the complaint states.
Five days after Babcock died, his body was returned to the funeral home. Cremation took place a day later.
Amend’s actions were outrageous and “went beyond all bounds of decency,” the claim states.
County attorneys have 60 days to respond to the claim. If a settlement isn’t reached, Miller said he intends to file a lawsuit in Spokane County Superior Court.
Hospice of Spokane and the Spokane AIDS Network have written letters to Amend, objecting to the way he treated Babcock’s family.
The agencies sent copies of the letters to Spokane County commissioners, Gov. Mike Lowry, Spokane County Health Board members and the Spokane County Medical Society.