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

Jul 3, 2023, 3:23 PM

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

Woman stabbed inside Miami International Airport, forcing evacuation

MIAMI (AP) — A man stabbed a woman at Miami International Airport Saturday night, setting off fears that an active shooter was in the terminal, and hundreds of other travelers were evacuated as a precaution, authorities said. The woman was stabbed around 11:30 p.m. in Terminal J on the fourth floor, outside the secure area. […]

45 minutes ago

Migrants in sitting close to each other in Mexico asylum...

Associated Press

Behind Biden’s asylum halt: Migrants must say if they fear deportation, not wait to be asked

Posters inside a complex of giant, white tents tell migrants in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Hindi they should tell an officer if they fear being deported and “your claim will be heard.”

1 hour ago

Danielle Tuttle tries the door to a department of motor vehicles location to find it locked and the...

Associated Press

Small businesses grapple with global tech outages created by CrowdStrike

NEW YORK (AP) — An owner of a consumer insights research firm couldn’t pay her employees, make Friday’s deadline to sign a contract for a new business or send key research to a key client. A psychiatrist, who runs a virtual mental health practice in Maryland, saw his business hobbled as some of his virtual […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

The pilot who died in crash after releasing skydivers near Niagara Falls has been identified

NEW YORK (AP) — Officials on Sunday released the name of a pilot who died in a skydiving flight after her passengers jumped from the aircraft near the Niagara Falls. Melanie Georger, 26, was the only person on board when the single-engine Cessna crashed Saturday, the Niagara Country Sheriff’s Office said in a statement. Georger, […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

4 Dallas firefighters injured as engine crashes off bridge, lands on railway below

DALLAS (AP) — A Dallas Fire-Rescue engine crashed off an expressway bridge on Sunday and landed on a railway track below, injuring four firefighters, officials said. The crash happened just after 6 a.m. on the I-345 Expressway, Dallas Fire-Rescue Capt. Robert Borse said. He said it was not immediately known Sunday what caused the accident […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Police: 3 killed, 6 wounded in ‘exchange of gunfire’ during gathering in Philadelphia; no arrests

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Three men were killed and at least six other people wounded in an early morning shootout at a gathering in west Philadelphia, authorities said. Police said more than 100 people were present in the Carroll Park neighborhood when gunfire broke out just after 2 a.m. Sunday. Police said their preliminary information indicated […]

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s how to be worry-free when your A/C goes out in the middle of summer

PHOENIX -- As Arizona approaches another hot summer, Phoenix residents are likely to spend more time indoors.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.


Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

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