TOPEKA – (November 5, 2020) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has alleged 79 additional consumers were harmed by a Leawood man accused of providing autopsy services in violation of state law, bringing the total number to 82, according to an amended civil petition filed with the court.
Schmidt also said the state now has control of more than 1,600 biological samples collected by Shawn Parcells, 41, of Leawood, and is working to identify family members or others with a legal claim to individual samples. He said many of the samples are small, such as vials of blood or slides prepared for microscopes, but some are larger samples of human tissue.
Earlier this week, a Shawnee County District Court judge approved the attorney general’s request to amend the state’s civil lawsuit filed against Parcells and his affiliated companies, increasing the number of consumers affected by the allegations to 82 from three when the lawsuit was first filed in March 2019. The attorney general is seeking restitution for the consumers for violations of the Kansas Consumer Protection Act.
The ongoing civil lawsuit alleges three counts of Kansas Consumer Protection Act violations and 14 counts of Kansas False Claims Act violations. The petition alleges Parcells contracted with Wabaunsee County to conduct coroner-ordered autopsies and failed to complete them in accordance with Kansas law. Additionally, the petition alleges he performed autopsies without the presence or supervision of a licensed pathologist or otherwise in violation of consumer protection laws. In March 2019, Shawnee County District Judge Mary E. Christopher temporarily banned Parcells and his affiliated companies from conducting autopsies. Judge Christopher expanded the order in May 2020 when Parcells formed new companies and began offering services related to COVID-19 and tax services while the lawsuit was pending.
Parcells has also been charged criminally in Wabaunsee County District Court with three felony counts of theft and three misdemeanor counts of criminal desecration. A scheduling conference in that case is scheduled for January 2021. Charges are merely accusations. Individuals are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
In the course of the civil investigation and litigation, the state has obtained control of more than 1,600 biological samples collected by Parcells. In November 2019, Judge Christopher appointed Kansas Department of Health and Environment Secretary Lee Norman as receiver and directed KDHE to take control of the samples. Under court order, the state cataloged and stored the samples. Schmidt said that upon proper and verified request the samples will be released to family members who request them from the state. After efforts to find and contact family members have been exhausted, the state will seek judicial approval to dispose of unclaimed or unidentified samples in a medically appropriate fashion.
The attorney general requests any person who has conducted business with Shawn Parcells and his companies and has reason to believe a family member’s biological samples may now be in the possession of the state to visit the Kansas Attorney General’s website at www.InYourCornerKansas.org/parcells. This link will provide access to forms that must be completed to request return of biological samples and to file a consumer complaint. For questions regarding this civil litigation, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at (785) 296-3751 or (800) 432-2310 toll-free in Kansas.
A copy of the amended civil petition can be found at https://bit.ly/36fywif.