Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Morgue-case discovery ordered

Survivors to get information

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A judge Tuesday ordered attorneys for Hamilton County to provide information to opposing attorneys who have filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of survivors of deceased people whose bodies were photographed by Thomas Condon inside the county morgue.

        Common Pleas Judge Patrick T. Dinkelacker denied the county's request to hold off giving information to opposing counsel until the judge has decided whether to grant another county request to dismiss the civil suit.

        “I"m very pleased. The judge's decision will let us go forward with discovery,” said Stan Chesley, the attorney who filed the class-action lawsuit in January.

        The civil suit contends that the county caused emotional distress to survivors of the people in Mr. Condon's photographs when it “negligently ... failed to preserve the privacy” of the deceased.

        Authorities say Mr. Condon, of Mount Auburn, gained access to the morgue for the purpose of determining how much to charge the coroner for a training video that the coroner ultimately decided was too expensive.

        Instead, police say, Mr. Condon ended up taking photographs of 12 corpses and posing some with objects, including a snail shell, sheet music and a book.

        Assistant Coroner Jonathan Tobias is accused of helping Mr. Condon gain access to the bodies.

        Both men face multiple charges of gross abuse of a corpse and are involved in ongoing criminal proceedings. The criminal trial is expected to begin in October.

        The civil case will return to court in August when arguments will be heard on the county's request to dismiss the class-action lawsuit.


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