Spokane County Coroner Dexter Amend is suing to stop disciplinary action against his medical license.
His lawyers are going to court Friday to try to scuttle an upcoming hearing by the state Medical Quality Assurance Commission.
County commissioners voted 2-1 earlier this week to intervene on Amend’s behalf in Superior Court. They’re worried the disciplinary action could set a precedent for other elected officials licensed by the state.
County taxpayers have already forked out almost $32,600 to defend Amend’s license.
The Medical Quality Assurance Commission says Amend committed moral turpitude - conduct reflecting poorly on the medical community and demeaning the profession.
He’s accused of inappropriate behavior in the death investigations of Rachel Carver, Jeffrey Himes, Kendra Grantham and Mario Lozada.
Amend, a 77-year-old retired urologist, doesn’t need his medical license to be the coroner. But he’s fighting to hold on to it.
In his lawsuit filed last week in Spokane County Superior Court, Amend says the state commission’s attack on his license violates his constitutional rights and the state’s recall procedure. The commission’s claims are baseless, he says.
The commission has scheduled a hearing on the moral turpitude charge for Nov. 19-21 at the Ridpath Hotel.
If found guilty, Amend could lose his license or have it suspended. He could also be fined.
Amend on Wednesday declined to comment on the upcoming hearing or his lawsuit.
In the suit, his lawyers contend the medical commission is improperly trying to revoke Amend’s license in retaliation for alleged unprofessional conduct as coroner.
County commissioners voted Tuesday to file motions to intervene in the case. Only Commissioner Steve Hasson voted against the move, saying that the county needs to cut its losses.
“We really have a ticking time bomb as long as Dexter is in there,” said Hasson, who’s consistently voted against supporting Amend’s fight to retain his license. “You’re just throwing good money after bad.”
Commissioners John Roskelley and Phil Harris said they weren’t defending Amend’s allegedly offensive comments - just the county’s interests.
“We’re not condoning any statements made by Dr. Amend concerning autopsies,” Roskelley said. “We’re just being very careful to make sure the county is represented in any future lawsuits that will affect taxpayers.”
Grieving families have already filed six lawsuits and legal claims against Amend.
Taxpayer have already paid more than $42,000 to defend Amend against these claims and to defend against a recall effort.