N.C. Medical Examiners

Judge delays whistleblower suit against medical examiner’s office

A whistleblower lawsuit against the North Carolina medical examiner’s office was put on hold Tuesday when a judge asked that two state departments review the former manager’s grievance.

The Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of State Human Resources have 45 days to review Kevin Gerity’s appeal of his December departure.

Gerity, 57, said he was forced to resign after cooperating with a State Bureau of Investigation probe into mishandled evidence at the medical examiner's office.

Last year, the SBI investigated how pathologist Dr. Clay Nichols documented a bullet that Gerity found after a 2011 autopsy.

Gerity said he found the bullet near Nichols’ cutting board, bagged it and gave it to the pathologist. But Nichols didn’t turn it over to detectives until the SBI investigation more than two years later.

Nichols said Gerity should have called him to the autopsy room so he could collect and document the evidence himself.

On Tuesday, Judge Craig Croom said the Office of Administrative Hearings can’t hear a case until it’s reviewed internally.

“You don’t know what their process is going to bring,” Croom said. “You might determine, ‘OK, there’s some middle ground.’ ”