Nueces County faces suit alleging medical examiner autopsy issue


A sign for the Nueces County Medical Examiner's Office, at 2610 Hospital Blvd. in Corpus Christi, is pictured on March 18, 2022.

A South Texas law firm on Tuesday notified Nueces County of a coming lawsuit, accusing the county’s medical examiner’s office of mishandling the autopsy of a man found dead nearly two years ago.

The four-page notice of claim signals a civil lawsuit seeking damages could be filed against the county in the coming weeks. Similar notices typically request the defendant to preserve records.

The law firm, Gowan and Elizondo, filed the claim on behalf of Tamara Gonzales. Her son, Joseph “Joey” Gonzales, 38, went missing on June 11, 2020. Authorities located his body five days later in a Southside storm drain near the 5900 block of La Costa Drive.

He was pronounced dead and later autopsied at the Nueces County Medical Examiner’s Office. The notice accuses the office and its employees of mishandling the body at multiple points during that process.

A poster published on social media in the days following the June 2020 disappearance of  Joseph "Joey" Gonzales. He was found dead in a Southside storm drain and later autopsied by the Nueces County Medical Examiner's Office. That autopsy is the subject of a notice of claim issued to the county on May 10, 2022, from the mother's attorneys.

A June Caller-Times article states his cause of death was not immediately known. The medical examiner’s finding — which is being questioned in the notice of claim — was not clear Tuesday.

The notice is addressed to Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales. In a text message to the Caller-Times, Canales said she had “no personal knowledge of any of the events alleged in the notice letter to Nueces County.”





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