A North Dakota medical waste facility says a human torso was delivered to its site and is suing

Jul 3, 2023, 3:23 PM

Sanford Medical Center in Bismarck, N.D., is seen on Monday, July 3, 2023. The hospital's parent co...

Sanford Medical Center in Bismarck, N.D., is seen on Monday, July 3, 2023. The hospital's parent company, Sanford Health, is involved in litigation that, among other allegations, involves human remains discovered at a Fargo-area medical waste disposal facility. (AP Photo/Jack Dura)

(AP Photo/Jack Dura)

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Human remains are at the center of tangled litigation involving a major regional health care system and the company contracted to dispose of its medical waste.

Monarch Waste Technologies sued Sanford Health and the subsidiary responsible for delivering the health care system’s medical waste, Healthcare Environmental Services, saying the latter “brazenly” deposited a human torso hidden in a plastic container to its facility in March. Monarch discovered the remains four days later after an employee “noticed a rotten and putrid smell,” according to the company’s complaint.

Monarch rejected the remains and notified North Dakota’s Department of Environmental Quality, which is investigating. An agency spokeswoman declined to comment during an active investigation.

The Texas-based company also claims an employee of Sanford Health’s subsidiary deliberately placed and then took photos of disorganized waste to suggest that Monarch had mismanaged medical waste, part of a scheme that would allow the subsidiary to end its contract with the facility.

“Put simply, this relationship has turned from a mutually beneficial, environmentally sound solution for the disposal of medical waste, and a potentially positive business relationship, to a made-for television movie complete with decaying human remains and staged photographs,” Monarch’s complaint states.

In its response, Sanford Health has said the body part was “clearly tagged” as “human tissue for research,” and “was the type of routine biological material inherent in a medical and teaching facility like Sanford that Monarch guaranteed it would safely and promptly dispose (of).”

Sanford described the body part as “a partial lower body research specimen used for resident education in hip replacement procedures.” A Sanford spokesman described the remains as “the hips and thighs area” when asked for specifics by The Associated Press.

Monarch CEO and co-founder David Cardenas said in an interview that the remains are of a male’s torso.

“One of their guys was there at the facility, it’s the same guy who that was delivering waste, we say, ‘Hey, what’s going on? … You need to take this out,’ so he rips it open — their employee ripped it open — and there’s the torso. So my guys snapped a picture, called this right away, and we said let’s make a report out, tell the state.” – Cardenas

“You can clearly see it’s a torso” in photos that Monarch took when it discovered the remains, Cardenas said.

He cited a state law that requires bodies to be buried or cremated after being dissected, and attributes the situation to a “lack of training for people at the hospital level” who handle waste and related documentation.

Cardenas wouldn’t elaborate on where the body part came from, but said the manifest given to Monarch and attached to the remains indicated the location is not a teaching hospital.

“It’s so far from a teaching hospital, it’s ridiculous,” he said.

It’s unclear what happened to the remains. Monarch’s complaint says the body part “simply disappeared at some point.”

Sanford Health’s attorneys say Healthcare Environmental Services, which is countersuing Monarch and Cardenas, “never removed body parts” from Monarch’s facility, and that Monarch “must have disposed of them.”

The Sanford spokesman told the AP that “the specimen was in Monarch’s possession when they locked Sanford out of their facilities.”

“All references to a ‘torso’ being mishandled or missing are deeply inaccurate, and deliberately misleading,” Sanford said in a statement.

Sanford said Monarch’s lawsuit “is simply a retaliation” for the termination of its contract with the health care system’s subsidiary “and a desperate attempt by Monarch to distract from its own failures.”

Cardenas said he would like there to be “some closure” for the deceased person to whom the remains belonged.

“I’m a believer in everything that God created should be treated with dignity, and I just feel that no one is demanding, ‘Who is this guy?’” he said.

United States News

Associated Press

University of the People founder and Arizona State professor win Yidan Prize for education work

NEW YORK (AP) — Shai Reshef, president and founder of the online, tuition-free University of the People, and Arizona State professor and researcher Michelene Chi, who has developed a framework to improve how students learn, are the 2023 winners of The Yidan Prize, the biggest award in education. Reshef and Chi will each receive 15 […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Massachusetts man stabs five officers after crashing into home following chase, police say

TAUNTON, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts man who sped away during a traffic stop led police on a chase that ended with him crashing into a home and then stabbing five officers, including the local police chief, before he was arrested, authorities said. The Taunton police officers were injured trying to take Douglas Hagerty, 35, […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

3 dead after car being pursued by police crashes in Indianapolis minutes after police end pursuit

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Three people including a teenage boy died when a car being chased by police in Indianapolis for reckless driving collided with another vehicle only minutes after officers ended their pursuit, authorities said Wednesday. An Indiana state trooper began the pursuit Tuesday night when the driver of a Dodge Challenger fled the officer’s […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Man serving sentence for attacking parents fails to return to halfway house and considered escapee

MOUNT LAUEL, N.J. (AP) — A man serving a prison sentence for attacking and seriously injuring his parents more than two decades ago remains missing Wednesday, several days after he failed to return to the halfway house where he was living. Edward Berbon, 54, was assigned to a halfway house in Camden County and had […]

2 hours ago

FILE - Former President Donald Trump pauses before ending his remarks at a rally in Summerville, S....

Associated Press

A judge found Trump committed fraud in building his real-estate empire. Here’s what happens next

WASHINGTON (AP) — A judge’s ruling that Donald Trump committed fraud as he built his real-estate empire tarnishes the former president’s image as a business titan and could strip him of his authority to make major decisions about the future of his marquee properties in his home state. The Tuesday order rescinds business licenses as […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Montana judge blocks enforcement of law to ban gender-affirming medical care for minors

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A law to ban gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors in Montana is temporarily banned, a state judge ruled Tuesday, just four days before it was to take effect. District Court Judge Jason Marks agreed with transgender youth, their families and healthcare providers that a law passed by the 2023 Montana […]

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.



Here are the biggest tips to keep your AC bill low this summer

PHOENIX — In Arizona during the summer, having a working air conditioning unit is not just a pleasure, but a necessity. No one wants to walk from their sweltering car just to continue to be hot in their home. As the triple digits hit around the Valley and are here to stay, your AC bill […]


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

5 mental health myths you didn’t know were made up

Helping individuals understand mental health diagnoses like obsessive compulsive spectrum disorder or generalized anxiety disorder isn’t always an easy undertaking. After all, our society tends to spread misconceptions about mental health like wildfire. This is why being mindful about how we talk about mental health is so important. We can either perpetuate misinformation about already […]

A North Dakota medical waste facility says a human torso was delivered to its site and is suing