KRS CHAPTER 072 – CORONERS, INQUESTS, AND MEDICAL EXAMINATIONS

 

 

KRS Chapter 072 – CORONERS, INQUESTS,

AND MEDICAL EXAMINATIONS
KRS 072.010 thru 072.992
 
Medical Examiners
Kentucky Coroner’s Act of 1978
Penalties
 
Updated 09/24/12 (2012) GB
 
 
KRS 72.010 Oath and bond of coroner — Minimum — Record — Payment of bond premiums from county funds — Appointment of deputy coroners.
Every coroner shall execute bond in the minimum amount of ten thousand dollars ($10,000) with sureties approved by the fiscal court. The bond shall be recorded by the fiscal court in the office of the county clerk. The fact that the constitutional oath has been taken and the approval of the bond shall be entered upon the records of the fiscal court. Premiums on the bond of the coroner may be paid from county funds when appropriated by the fiscal court. No jailer, sheriff or sheriff’s deputy, county judge/executive, clerk, or attorney shall be surety for the coroner on his official bond. Every coroner shall have the authority to appoint deputy coroners. Deputy coroners shall execute a bond with sureties in accordance with the provisions of this section.
Effective: July 15, 1996
History: Amended 1996 Ky. Acts ch. 86, sec. 7, effective July 15, 1996. – Amended 1984 Ky. Acts ch. 103, sec. 1, effective July 13, 1984. — Amended 1978 Ky. Acts ch. 93, sec. 6, effective June 17, 1978. — Amended 1976 (1st Extra. Sess.) Ky. Acts ch. 20, sec. 6, effective January 2, 1978. — Recodified 1942 Ky. Acts ch. 208, sec. 1, effective October 1, 1942, from Ky. Stat. secs. 527, 4559.

NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:

 
 
KRS 72.020 Duty of person, hospital, or institution finding or possessing dead body — Duties of coroner, law enforcement officer, embalmer, funeral director, or ambulance service.
(1) Any person, hospital, or institution, finding or having possession of the body of any person whose death occurred under any of the circumstances defined in subsections (1) through (12) of KRS 72.025, shall immediately notify the coroner, or his deputy, and a law enforcement agency, which shall report to the scene within a reasonable time. No person shall remove the body or remove anything from the body until directed to do so by the coroner or his deputy, after the law enforcement agency is present or has failed, within a reasonable period of time, to respond.
(2) The coroner shall take possession of any objects, medical specimens, or articles which, in his opinion, may be helpful in establishing the cause of death, and he can make or cause to be made such tests and examinations of said objects as may be necessary or useful in determining the cause of death. In the event that a criminal prosecution arises, all such objects and articles together with reports of any examinations made upon them shall be retained by the coroner until their production in evidence is required by the prosecuting authority, unless otherwise directed by written order of the court in which such prosecution is pending.
(3) Upon final disposition of each criminal prosecution under this section, the court shall by appropriate written order dispose of all objects retained under the provisions of this section.
(4) If the law enforcement officer at the scene has probable cause to believe that one of the conditions in subsection (1) of this section exists and the coroner refuses to require a post-mortem examination, the officer shall immediately notify the county or Commonwealth attorney who may proceed pursuant to KRS 72.445.
(5) In all cases listed under KRS 72.025 in which a licensed embalmer, funeral director, or ambulance service is notified and is the first person at the scene of death other than private citizens, he shall notify the coroner and if the death appears to fall within the categories established in subsections (1) through (12) of KRS 72.025, he shall notify a local law enforcement agency.
Effective: July 15, 1982
History: Amended 1982 Ky. Acts ch. 195, sec. 2, effective July 15, 1982. – Amended 1978 Ky. Acts ch. 93, sec. 7, effective June 17, 1978. — Amended 1964 Ky. Acts ch. 127, sec. 1. — Recodified 1942 Ky. Acts ch. 208, sec. 1, effective October 1, 1942, from Ky. Stat. sec. 528.


 
ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:

Saylor v. Commonwealth, No. 2002-SC-0456-DG (KY, 2004)
In addition to introducing the crime scene evidence, the Commonwealth proved the cause of death through the testimony of the pathologist who conducted the postmortem examination of Faulconer’s body. At the conclusion of the Commonwealth’s case, Appellant moved for a directed verdict of acquittal because the crime scene evidence was presented by witnesses other than the coroner, and proof of cause of death came from a witness other than the coroner. He relies on KRS 72.020(2):
 
Brown v. Bowling, 940 F.2d 658 (C.A.6 (Ky.), 1991)
Defendant is the county coroner of Laurel County, Kentucky. He also has a funeral home and is in business as a mortician and funeral director. As coroner he has the authority to arrest for the purpose of enforcing KRS Secs. 72.410-72.470 (the statutes which provide for coroners’ inquests). KY.REV.STAT.ANN. Sec. 72.415(1)-(12)(Baldwin 1990 Cumulative Service). On February 26, 1988, he obtained a warrant for Plaintiff’s arrest based on allegations that Plaintiff had interfered with his investigation of the death of Plaintiff’s uncle. 1 Plaintiff claims that the Defendant fabricated the charges in retaliation for the Plaintiff’s refusal to use the Defendant’s funeral home rather than the mortuary of one of Defendant’s competitors for his uncle’s funeral. The District Court entered summary judgment for the defendant, finding that there was probable cause for the arrest, and therefore no constitutional harm.
 
City of Ashland v. Miller, 283 S.W.2d 195 (Ky., 1955)
It will be observed that the statute is susceptible of the construction that an inquest may be held either (1) upon the mere request of a responsible citizen, or (2) when the coroner has reason to believe the death was caused by crime, suicide, drowning or other sudden cause, or resulted from unnatural cause without the attendance of a physician. The city maintains that this construction is not correct, and that the statute contemplates that the request of a citizen must carry with it some suggestion or indication that the death was caused by crime, etc., so as to furnish some basis for belief by the coroner that the death warrants investigation.
In endeavoring to reach a correct interpretation of KRS 72.030, we think it is proper to consider some of the other statutes relating to the office of coroner. We find, in KRS 72.020, that the duty of a person to notify the coroner of a death arises only where the dead person was ‘slain, drowned or otherwise suddenly killed,’ or the death resulted from unnatural cause without the attendance of a physician. …..


                                                                                                                              
 
KRS 72.025 Circumstances requiring post-mortem examination to be performed by coroner.
Coroners shall require a post-mortem examination to be performed in the following circumstances:
(1) When the death of a human being appears to be caused by homicide or violence;
(2) When the death of a human being appears to be the result of suicide;
(3) When the death of a human being appears to be the result of the presence of drugs or poisons in the body;
(4) When the death of a human being appears to be the result of a motor vehicle accident and the operator of the motor vehicle left the scene of the accident or the body was found in or near a roadway or railroad;
(5) When the death of a human being occurs while the person is in a state mental institution or mental hospital when there is no previous medical history to explain the death, or while the person is in police custody, a jail or penal institution;
(6) When the death of a human being occurs in a motor vehicle accident and when an external examination of the body does not reveal a lethal traumatic injury;
(7) When the death of a human being appears to be the result of a fire or explosion;
(8) When the death of a child appears to indicate child abuse prior to the death;
(9) When the manner of death appears to be other than natural;
(10) When human skeletonized remains are found;
(11) When post-mortem decomposition of a human corpse exists to the extent that external examination of the corpse cannot rule out injury or where the circumstances of death cannot rule out the commission of a crime;
(12) When the death of a human being appears to be the result of drowning;
(13) When the death of an infant appears to be caused by sudden infant death syndrome in that the infant has no previous medical history to explain the death;
(14) When the death of a human being occurs as a result of an accident;
(15) When the death of a human being occurs under the age of forty (40) and there is nopast medical history to explain the death;
(16) When the death of a human being occurs at the work site and there is no apparent cause of death such as an injury or when industrial toxics may have contributed to the cause of death;
(17) When the body is to be cremated and there is no past medical history to explain the death;
(18) When the death of a human being is sudden and unexplained; and
(19) When the death of a human being occurs and the decedent is not receiving treatment by a licensed physician and there is no ascertainable medical history to indicate the cause of death.
Effective: July 15, 1998
History: Amended 1998 Ky. Acts ch. 406, sec. 1, effective July 15, 1998. – Amended 1986 Ky. Acts ch. 316, sec. 1, effective July 15, 1986. — Created 1982 Ky. Acts ch. 195, sec. 1, effective July 15, 1982.

ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
Thompson v. McLean County, No. 2006-CA-000172-MR (Ky. App. 3/21/2008) (Ky. App., 2008)
    Thompson maintains that Muster’s failing to conduct an autopsy violated his statutory duty imposed by KRS 72.025, which statute directs a coroner to conduct a post-mortem examination in nineteen specified circumstances. She claims the statute creates a ministerial duty, and that Muster is therefore not immune from liability. Thompson specifically points to the following subsections of KRS 72.025:
   Thompson did not allege in the trial court that Muster failed to conduct a post-mortem examination, but that he failed to perform an autopsy. A "post-mortem examination" is defined by KRS 72.405(4) as an examination that "may include an autopsy." (Emphasis supplied.) As noted by the trial court, KRS 72.025 does not specify how a post-mortem examination is performed and a post-mortem examination does not necessarily include an autopsy.
        The situation at bar is analogous to that considered in Stratton v. Commonwealth, 182 S.W.3d 516 (Ky. 2006), involving the investigative duties of the Child Protective Services division of the Cabinet for Families and Children. The court held that certain investigative responsibilities specified by the regulations were ministerial, while other responsibilities requiring exercise of judgment were discretionary.
        The trial court appropriately concluded that "[w]hile a post-mortem examination may have been required under [KRS 72.025], whether or not to order an autopsy was discretionary…. " However, the record does not support the trial court’s conclusion that Muster’s discretionary decision to not order an autopsy was entitled to immunity. Qualified official immunity is unavailable to Muster if his discretionary decision to not conduct an autopsy was made in bad faith. See Yanero, 65 S.W.3d at 523. Muster’s dismissal was premature and Thompson should have the opportunity to pursue her claim against Muster. On remand, it is her burden to establish that Muster acted in bad faith in not ordering an autopsy. See id.


 
 
 
KRS 72.029 Monthly report by coroner on child fatalities.
Every coroner or other official performing a coroner’s functions shall, on or before the tenth day of each month, report to the Department for Public Health the death of any child under the age of eighteen (18) years occurring within the county during the preceding month, and the circumstances of the death. The report shall be made on the form required pursuant to administrative regulations promulgated pursuant to KRS Chapter 13A by the department. The form shall be developed in consultation with the Kentucky Coroners’ Association.
Effective: July 15, 1998
History: Amended 1998 Ky. Acts ch. 426, sec. 93, effective July 15, 1998. – Created 1996 Ky. Acts ch. 347, sec. 5, effective July 15, 1996

 
 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
 
KRS 72.045 Liability of office — Deputies.
The office of coroner, rather than the individual holder of the office, shall be liable for the acts or omissions of deputy coroners. When a deputy coroner omits to act or acts in such a way as to render the coroner responsible, and the coroner discharges such responsibility, the deputy shall be liable to the coroner for all damages and costs caused by the deputy’s act or omission.
History: Created 1974 Ky. Acts ch. 387, sec. 1.

NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 

Medical Examiners
 
KRS 72.210 Purpose of Division of Kentucky State Medical Examiners Office.
In enacting legislation establishing an Office of the Kentucky State Medical Examiner for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, it is not the intention of the General Assembly to abolish or interfere with the coroner in his role as a constitutionally elected peace officer. It is the intention of the General Assembly for the office to aid, assist, and complement the coroner in the performance of his duties by providing medical assistance to him in determining causes of death.
Effective: June 26, 2007
History: Amended 2007 Ky. Acts ch. 85, sec. 142, effective June 26, 2007. — Amended 1998 Ky. Acts ch. 65, sec. 4, effective July 15, 1998. — Created 1968 Ky. Acts ch. 114, sec. 1.
 
ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
Young v. Napier, 464 S.W.2d 235 (Ky., 1971)
‘Reports of investigations, examinations and autopsies made pursuant to KRS 72.210 to 72.275 or transcripts or copies thereof certified by the director of the Medical Examiner Section or by any county or district medical examiner shall be admissible in evidence in any court of this state.’
 
KRS 72.220 Justice Cabinet to provide medical assistance to coroner investigating deaths.
The Justice and Public Safety Cabinet shall, within budgetary limitation, provide medical assistance to coroners in investigating deaths; provide or contract for laboratory facilities for performing autopsies and investigations pursuant to KRS 72.210 to 72.275; provide for the keeping of reports of all investigations and examinations; and provide such other functions and duties as may be specified in KRS 72.210 to 72.275 or in the administrative regulations of the secretary of justice and public safety.
Effective: June 26, 2007
History: Amended 2007 Ky. Acts ch. 85, sec. 143, effective June 26, 2007. — Amended 1982 Ky. Acts ch. 195, sec. 3, effective July 15, 1982; and ch. 343, sec. 14, effective July 15, 1982. — Amended 1974 Ky. Acts ch. 74, Art. VI, sec. 37. — Created 1968 Ky. Acts ch. 114, sec. 3.
 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:

 
KRS 72.225 Advisory commission for medical examination.
An advisory commission is hereby established to act in a general advisory capacity to the medical examiner services. The commissioner of the Department of Kentucky State Police, the commissioner of criminal justice training, the secretary of justice and public safety, and the secretary for health and family services shall be ex officio members of the advisory commission. The secretary of justice and public safety shall appoint five (5) additional members for terms of four (4) years each or until their successors are appointed and qualify. Members of the advisory commission shall receive no compensation for their services but shall be repaid their actual expenses incurred in attending meetings.
Effective: June 26, 2007
History: Amended 2007 Ky. Acts ch. 85, sec. 144, effective June 26, 2007. — Amended 2005 Ky. Acts ch. 99, sec. 111, effective June 20, 2005. — Amended 1998 Ky. Acts ch. 426, sec. 94, effective July 15, 1998. — Amended 1982 Ky. Acts ch. 195, sec. 4, effective July 15, 1982; and ch. 343, sec. 15, effective July 15, 1982. — Amended 1974 Ky. Acts ch. 74, Art. VI, sec. 38. — Created 1968 Ky. Acts ch. 114, sec. 4.
Legislative Research Commission Note. This section was amended by 1982 Acts, Chapter 195, Section 4, and 1982 Acts, Chapter 343, Section 15, which are in conflict in regard to the appointing authority for members of the advisory commission to medical examiner services. Pursuant to KRS 446.250, the amendment in Chapter 343, Section 15, prevails as the later enactment.
 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
 
KRS 72.235 Justice Cabinet may provide facilities and professional personnel for studies and examinations.
The Justice and Public Safety Cabinet may establish or contract for physical facilities for the conduct of post-mortem and other necessary examinations. The cabinet may employ, by contract or otherwise, pathologists, toxicologists and other ancillary, technical and administrative personnel to perform autopsies and such other pathological, chemical and other studies and examinations as may be deemed necessary. Such studies and examinations may be performed in another state if deemed to be in the best interest of the Commonwealth by the chief medical examiner or the certified coroner or deputy coroner and the reports thereof shall have the same validity and admissibility in evidence as those performed within this state when duly certified by the chief medical examiner of the cabinet or by a certified coroner or deputy coroner.
Effective: June 26, 2007
History: Amended 2007 Ky. Acts ch. 85, sec. 145, effective June 26, 2007. — Amended 1982 Ky. Acts ch. 195, sec. 5, effective July 15, 1982; and ch. 343, sec. 16, effective July 15, 1982. — Created 1968 Ky. Acts ch. 114, sec. 6.
 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
 
KRS 72.240 Justice Cabinet may employ state chief medical examiner and associate — Employment of county and district medical examiners.
 (1) The Justice and Public Safety Cabinet may employ a board-certified forensic pathologist as the chief medical examiner who shall administer the Office of the Kentucky State Medical Examiner and one (1) associate chief medical examiner for the Commonwealth.
(2) The Justice and Public Safety Cabinet may employ physicians licensed to practice medicine in Kentucky as county or district medical examiners to carry out the provisions of KRS 72.210 to 72.275 within the counties or district to which they are assigned by the medical examiner section. The cabinet may designate county or district health officers as county or district medical examiners and may authorize additional compensation therefor.
Effective: June 26, 2007
History: Amended 2007 Ky. Acts ch. 85, sec. 146, effective June 26, 2007. — Amended 1998 Ky. Acts ch. 65, sec. 5, effective July 15, 1998. — Amended 1982 Ky. Acts ch. 195, sec. 6, effective July 15, 1982. — Created 1968 Ky. Acts ch. 114, sec. 7.
 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
KRS 72.245 County or district examiner to assist coroner.
At the request of the coroner the county or district medical examiner shall assist in the investigation of deaths.
History: Created 1968 Ky. Acts ch. 114, sec. 8.

NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
 
 
KRS 72.255 Rules and regulations.
The secretary of justice and public safety shall adopt administrative regulations to carry out the provisions of KRS Chapter 72, including but not limited to the adoption of forms, fees for examinations, certification requirements, reports of medical examiners and certified coroners, and other costs incidental to the administration of this chapter. The advisory commission provided for in KRS 72.225 shall review and may recommend new regulations or changes in the regulations provided for in this section.
Effective: June 26, 2007
History: Amended 2007 Ky. Acts ch. 85, sec. 147, effective June 26, 2007. — Amended 1982 Ky. Acts ch. 195, sec. 7, effective July 15, 1982; and ch. 343, sec. 18, effective July 15, 1982. — Created 1968 Ky. Acts ch. 114, sec. 10.
 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
 
KRS 72.260 Charge for copies.
The secretary of justice and public safety is authorized to establish a schedule of fees for issuing duplicate records of investigations, examinations, autopsies, and other records; provided, however, that one (1) copy shall be provided free of charge to the coroner and either the county or Commonwealth’s attorney concerned.
Effective: June 26, 2007
History: Amended 2007 Ky. Acts ch. 85, sec. 148, effective June 26, 2007. — Amended 1990 Ky. Acts ch. 88, secs. 87 and 93, effective July 1, 1992. — Amended 1982 Ky. Acts ch. 195, sec. 8, effective July 15, 1982; and ch. 343, sec. 19, effective July 15, 1982. — Created 1968 Ky. Acts ch. 114, sec. 11.
Note: Amendment of this section by 1990 Ky. Acts ch. 88, secs. 87 and 93 became effective July 1, 1992, in compliance with 1992 Ky. Acts ch. 324, sec. 30.


ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:

Young v. Napier, 464 S.W.2d 235 (Ky., 1971)
 Appellees contend that the report of the autopsy and the testimony concerning the findings were rightfully admitted under KRS 72.260(1), which provides: ‘Reports of investigations, examinations and autopsies made pursuant to KRS 72.210 to 72.275 or transcripts or copies thereof certified by the director of the Medical Examiner Section or by any county or district medical examiner shall be admissible in evidence in any court of this state.’
 
 
 
KRS 72.265 Coroner may act as county or district medical examiner.
Where a duly elected coroner is a physician licensed to practice medicine in Kentucky, he may be authorized by the department to perform the duties of a county or district medical examiner and may be compensated by the department therefor.
History: Created 1968 Ky. Acts ch. 114, sec. 12.
 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
KRS 72.270 Trust and agency fund for fees.
Fees collected pursuant to KRS 72.210 to 72.275 shall be deposited in the State Treasury and credited to a trust and agency fund to help defray the cost of carrying out the provisions of KRS 72.210 to 72.275.
History: Created 1968 Ky. Acts ch. 114, sec. 13.

NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
 
 
KRS 72.275 Persons enforcing law immune from liability.
Anyone participating in good faith pursuant to KRS 72.210 to 72.275 or the administrative regulations of the secretary of justice and public safety shall have immunity from any civil liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed.
Effective: June 26, 2007
History: Amended 2007 Ky. Acts ch. 85, sec. 149, effective June 26, 2007. — Amended 1982 Ky. Acts ch. 343, sec. 20, effective July 15, 1982. — Created 1968 Ky. Acts ch. 114, sec. 14.
 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
 
KRS 72.280 Annual report to Justice Cabinet on drug-related deaths.
The Division of Kentucky State Medical Examiners Office and its laboratory services shall prepare an annual report to the secretary of the Justice Cabinet which includes the number of drug-related deaths, the counties in which those deaths occurred, and the major categories or generic names of the drugs involved.
Effective: July 12, 2006
History: Created 2006 Ky. Acts ch. 116, sec. 1, effective July 12, 2006.
 
 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
 
Kentucky Coroner’s Act of 1978
 
KRS 72.400 Legislative intent.
In enacting legislation relating to coroners, the General Assembly recognizes that the coroner is an elected constitutional peace officer. The General Assembly also recognizes that the ascertainment of the cause and manner of death in cases in which the coroner has jurisdiction is an essential governmental service. It is the intent of KRS 72.410 to 72.470 to encourage the coroner to participate in approved training sessions to improve his skills for the Commonwealth and to cooperate with the Office of the Kentucky State Medical Examiner administered by the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.
Effective: June 26, 2007
History: Amended 2007 Ky. Acts ch. 85, sec. 150, effective June 26, 2007. — Amended 1998 Ky. Acts ch. 65, sec. 6, effective July 15, 1998. — Amended 1982 Ky. Acts ch. 195, sec. 9, effective July 15, 1982. — Created 1978 Ky. Acts ch. 93, sec. 2, effective June 17, 1978.
 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
 
KRS 72.405 Definitions.
As used in KRS 72.410 to 72.470, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
(1) "Coroner ordered autopsy" means an autopsy ordered by the coroner having jurisdiction and performed by a pathologist pursuant to such authorization in order to ascertain the cause and manner of death in a coroner’s case. In the event the pathologist deems it necessary, he may submit the appropriate specimen to a qualified chemist or toxicologist for analysis to assist him in ascertaining the cause of death in a coroner’s case;
(2) "Coroner’s case" means a case in which the coroner has reasonable cause for believing that the death of a human being within his county was caused by any of the conditions set forth in KRS 72.025;
(3) "Inquest" means an examination ordered by the coroner, or in his absence, ordered by a deputy coroner, into the causes and circumstances of any death which is a coroner’s case by a jury of six (6) residents of the county impaneled and selected by the coroner to assist him in ascertaining the cause and manner of death;
(4) "Post-mortem examination" means a physical examination of the body by a medical examiner or by a coroner or deputy coroner who has been certified by the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and may include an autopsy performed by a pathologist or other appropriate scientific tests administered to determine cause of death; and
(5) "Certified coroner" or "certified deputy coroner" means a coroner or deputy coroner who has been certified by the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet to have successfully completed both the basic training course and annual inservice training course required by KRS 72.415, except that a deputy coroner shall be certified without completion of training courses required by KRS 72.415 if he is a licensed physician. The secretary of justice and public safety may waive the requirement for basic training and certify a coroner during the eighteen (18) month period after July 15, 1982, if the advisory commission set forth in KRS 72.225 certifies to the secretary after a thorough review that the experience and knowledge of the specific coroner is such that he is qualified to be a certified coroner without taking the basic training.
Effective: June 26, 2007
History: Amended 2007 Ky. Acts ch. 85, sec. 151, effective June 26, 2007. — Amended 1982 Ky. Acts ch. 195, sec. 10, effective July 15, 1982. — Created 1978 Ky. Acts ch. 93, sec. 3, effective June 17, 1978.
 
 
ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:

 
 
Thompson v. McLean County, No. 2006-CA-000172-MR (Ky. App. 3/21/2008) (Ky. App., 2008)
  Thompson did not allege in the trial court that Muster failed to conduct a post-mortem examination, but that he failed to perform an autopsy. A "post-mortem examination" is defined by KRS 72.405(4) as an examination that "may include an autopsy." (Emphasis supplied.) As noted by the trial court, KRS 72.025 does not specify how a post-mortem examination is performed and a post-mortem examination does not necessarily include an autopsy.
        The situation at bar is analogous to that considered in Stratton v. Commonwealth, 182 S.W.3d 516 (Ky. 2006), involving the investigative duties of the Child Protective Services division of the Cabinet for Families and Children. The court held that certain investigative responsibilities specified by the regulations were ministerial, while other responsibilities requiring exercise of judgment were discretionary.
        The trial court appropriately concluded that "[w]hile a post-mortem examination may have been required under [KRS 72.025], whether or not to order an autopsy was discretionary…. " However, the record does not support the trial court’s conclusion that Muster’s discretionary decision to not order an autopsy was entitled to immunity. Qualified official immunity is unavailable to Muster if his discretionary decision to not conduct an autopsy was made in bad faith. See Yanero, 65 S.W.3d at 523. Muster’s dismissal was premature and Thompson should have the opportunity to pursue her claim against Muster. On remand, it is her burden to establish that Muster acted in bad faith in not ordering an autopsy. See id.
 
 
KRS 72.410 Investigation of deaths defined as a coroner’s case.
(1) The coroner of each county shall investigate the cause and manner of all deaths that are defined by KRS 72.405 as a coroner’s case.
(2) The coroner may, in his sound discretion, when investigating a coroner’s case, request the assistance of the district medical examiner and the Office of the Kentucky State Medical Examiner, order an autopsy, and hold an inquest.
(3)
 (a) Upon notification of the death of a child under the age of eighteen (18) years which meets the criteria for a coroner’s case as defined in KRS 72.405 and 72.025, the coroner shall as soon as practicable contact the local office of the Department for Community Based Services, law enforcement agencies with local jurisdiction, and the local health department to determine the existence of relevant information concerning the case.
(b) Any agency of the state or any other agency, institution, or facility providing services to the child or the child’s family, shall provide to the coroner upon his or her request the cooperation, assistance, and information to enable the coroner to comply with the provisions of this chapter. This section shall not be deemed to abrogate the attorney-client nor the clergy-penitent privilege or the confidentiality of records provided by KRS 311.377(2). If other privileged or confidential records are disclosed to the coroner pursuant to this section, the records shall remain confidential or privileged and shall not be disclosed except as authorized by this section, to the state or local child fatality response team, or as otherwise required by law.
Effective: June 26, 2007
History: Amended 2007 Ky. Acts ch. 85, sec. 152, effective June 26, 2007. — Amended 2000 Ky. Acts ch. 14, sec. 8, effective July 14, 2000. — Amended 1998 Ky. Acts ch. 65, sec. 7, effective July 15, 1998. — Amended 1996 Ky. Acts ch. 347, sec. 6, effective July 15, 1996. — Created 1978 Ky. Acts ch. 93, sec. 4, effective June 17, 1978.
 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
 
KRS 72.415 Power and authority of coroners and their deputies — Training course for deputy coroners.
 (1) For the purpose of enforcing the provisions of KRS 72.410 to 72.470, coroners and deputy coroners shall have the full power and authority of peace officers in this state, including the power of arrest and the authority to bear arms, and shall have the power and authority to:
(a) Administer oaths;
(b) Enter upon public or private premises for the purpose of making investigations;
(c) Seize evidence;
(d) Interrogate persons;
(e) Require the production of medical records, books, papers, documents, or other evidence;
(f) Impound vehicles involved in vehicular deaths;
(g) Employ special investigators and photographers; and
(h) Expend funds for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of KRS 72.410 to 72.470.
The fiscal court or urban-county government shall pay all reasonable expenses incurred by the coroner and his deputy in carrying out his responsibilities under the provisions of KRS 72.410 to 72.470.
(2) No person shall be eligible to hold the office of deputy coroner unless he holds a high school diploma or its recognized equivalent. Every deputy coroner, other than a licensed physician, shall be required as a condition of office to take during every calendar year he or she is in office the training course of at least eighteen (18) hours provided by the Department of Criminal Justice Training or other courses approved by the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet after having completed the basic training course the first year of employment. The training course shall include material developed by the cabinet and approved by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services on the human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. The material shall include information on known modes of transmission and methods of controlling and preventing these diseases with an emphasis on appropriate behavior and attitude change.
Effective: June 26, 2007
History: Amended 2007 Ky. Acts ch. 85, sec. 153, effective June 26, 2007. — Amended 2005 Ky. Acts ch. 99, sec. 112, effective June 20, 2005. — Amended 1998 Ky. Acts ch. 426, sec. 95, effective July 15, 1998. — Amended 1990 Ky. Acts ch. 443, sec. 35, effective July 13, 1990. — Amended 1988 Ky. Acts ch. 248, sec. 2, effective July 15, 1988. — Amended 1986 Ky. Acts ch. 64, sec. 6, effective July 15, 1986. — Amended 1982 Ky. Acts ch. 195, sec. 11, effective July 15, 1982. — Created 1978 Ky. Acts ch. 93, sec. 5, effective June 17, 1978.
Legislative Research Commission Note (6/26/2007). The numbering of subsection (1) of this section has been altered by the Reviser of Statutes from the numbering in 2007 Ky. Acts ch. 85, sec. 153, under the authority of KRS 7.136.
 


NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
 
KRS 72.420 Coroner’s inquest — Subpoenas — Stenographic services — Verdict.
(1) A coroner may, in his sound discretion, order an inquest in any coroner’s case. The inquest shall be conducted by a coroner’s jury consisting of six (6) reputable citizens of the county selected and sworn by the coroner. The coroner may issue subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum. No subpoenaed witness shall fail to appear as ordered. Application may be made by the coroner to the Circuit Court for punishment by contempt for failure to obey a coroner’s subpoena.
(2) The coroner may employ stenographic services to record the proceeding. Payment for stenographic services shall be made by the fiscal court or urban-county government, whichever is appropriate, upon certification by the coroner that the services were rendered.
(3) In the event the jury returns a verdict of murder, manslaughter, or other criminal act, the coroner shall arrest the named individual or notify the appropriate law enforcement authority to arrest such individual to be dealt with according to law. A copy of the verdict shall be filed with the appropriate Circuit Court clerk.
Effective: June 17, 1978
History: Created 1978 Ky. Acts ch. 93, sec. 8, effective June 17, 1978.
 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
 
 
KRS 72.425 Consent to autopsy when death not a coroner’s case.
In the event the death of a person is not a coroner’s case, consent to an autopsy shall be obtained from the decedent, by written consent, signed and acknowledged prior to his death; or his or her spouse; or in the absence of a spouse, the next of kin of the decedent; or in the absence of any of the above, the person who assumes the responsibility to dispose of the body.
Effective: June 17, 1978
History: Created 1978 Ky. Acts ch. 93, sec. 9, effective June 17, 1978.

 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
 
KRS 72.430 Pathologist, toxicologist, chemist — Immunity from civil liability.
No pathologist, toxicologist, chemist, or other authorized person shall be required to inquire into the authority of the coroner to order an autopsy to be performed. Any authorized pathologist, toxicologist, chemist, or other authorized person who participates in an autopsy or post-mortem examination, upon request of the coroner, shall have immunity from any civil liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed.
Effective: June 17, 1978
History: Created 1978 Ky. Acts ch. 93, sec. 10, effective June 17, 1978.

 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
KRS 72.435 Cost of transporting or exhuming a body.
In the event it is necessary for the coroner to order a body to be transported or exhumed, payment shall be made by the fiscal court, consolidated local government, or urbancounty government, whichever is appropriate, upon certification by the coroner that the services were rendered.
Effective: July 15, 2002
History: Amended 2002 Ky. Acts ch. 346, sec. 73, effective July 15, 2002. – Created 1978 Ky. Acts ch. 93, sec. 11, effective June 17, 1978.
 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
KRS 72.440 Circumstances under which coroner may order body exhumed.
A coroner may, upon receipt of an affidavit from any person stating that he believes or has reasonable grounds to believe that a person who is dead and buried died from poisoning or other illegal cause, order the body exhumed and a post-mortem examination or autopsy conducted.
Effective: June 17, 1978
History: Created 1978 Ky. Acts ch. 93, sec. 12, effective June 17, 1978.

 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
 
KRS 72.445 County or Commonwealth’s attorney may petition court to order autopsy.
In the event a coroner declines to order an autopsy or body exhumed for an autopsy, the county or Commonwealth’s attorney may petition the District or Circuit Court having jurisdiction to order an autopsy. In granting or denying such request, the court shall determine whether or not reasonable grounds exist for believing that the decedent may have died as a result of a criminal act.
Effective: June 17, 1978
History: Created 1978 Ky. Acts ch. 93, sec. 13, effective June 17, 1978.

 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
 
 
KRS 72.450 Disposal of body and valuables found thereon.
(1) A coroner who has possession of a dead body or a part thereof shall make a bona fide attempt to notify the spouse, if any, or next of kin of the decedent’s death. In the event the coroner is unable to locate the spouse, if any, or next of kin, he or she may cause the body to be buried at the expense of the fiscal court, consolidated local government, or urban-county government, whichever is appropriate.
(2) In the event the body is buried at public expense, the coroner shall take possession of all money or other property found on or belonging to the decedent and shall deliver same to the fiscal court, consolidated local government, or urban-county government, whichever is appropriate. Any money or other property found on the body of the decedent or belonging to him or her shall be delivered by the coroner to the fiscal court, consolidated local government, or urban-county government, whichever is appropriate, to help defray burial expenses. Any excess funds shall escheat to such governmental agency one (1) year thereafter.
(3) In lieu of having an unclaimed body buried at public expense, the coroner may deliver such body or part thereof to a state medical school in accordance with the provisions of KRS 311.300 to 311.350.
Effective: July 15, 2002
History: Amended 2002 Ky. Acts ch. 346, sec. 74, effective July 15, 2002. – Created 1978 Ky. Acts ch. 93, sec. 14, effective June 17, 1978.

 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
KRS 72.455 Expense of search for body.
The fiscal court, consolidated local government, or urban-county government, whichever is appropriate, shall pay the expense of conducting a search for a body where such search has been ordered by the coroner.
Effective: July 15, 2002
History: Amended 2002 Ky. Acts ch. 346, sec. 75, effective July 15, 2002. – Created 1978 Ky. Acts ch. 93, sec. 15, effective June 17, 1978.
 
 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
 
The cost of autopsies shall be paid for by the fiscal court; provided, however, that the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, Office of the Kentucky State Medical Examiner, may contract with pathologists and toxicologists and chemists and pay for such autopsies within the budgetary limitations of funds appropriated by the General Assembly for this purpose.
Effective: June 26, 2007
History: Amended 2007 Ky. Acts ch. 85, sec. 154, effective June 26, 2007. — Amended 1998 Ky. Acts ch. 65, sec. 8, effective July 15, 1998. — Created 1978 Ky. Acts ch. 93, sec. 16, effective June 17, 1978.
 
 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
KRS 72.465 Inquiry into death under natural circumstances — Death certificate – Change in original certificate.
(1) The coroner shall in his sound discretion determine the extent of inquiry to be made into any death occurring under natural circumstances and falling within the provisions of KRS 72.410 to 72.470, and if inquiry reveals that the physician of record has sufficient knowledge to reasonably state the cause of a death occurring under natural circumstances, the coroner may authorize that physician to sign the certificate of death. In all other instances, the coroner shall sign the death certificate in coroner’s cases.
(2) In the event an autopsy is performed under the provisions of KRS 72.410 to 72.470 subsequent to the time that a death certificate has been filed with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Vital Statistics Branch, the coroner shall notify the Vital Statistics Branch of any change that may be necessary in the original certificate.
Effective: June 20, 2005
History: Amended 2005 Ky. Acts ch. 99, sec. 113, effective June 20, 2005. – Amended 1998 Ky. Acts ch. 426, sec. 96, effective July 15, 1998. — Amended 1990 Ky. Acts ch. 88, secs. 88 and 93, effective July 1, 1992. — Created 1978 Ky. Acts ch. 93, sec. 17, effective June 17, 1978. Note: Amendment of this section by 1990 Ky. Acts ch. 88, secs. 88 and 93 became effective July 1, 1992, in compliance with 1992 Ky. Acts ch. 324, sec. 30.

 
 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
 
KRS 72.470 Coroner or deputy — Immunity from civil liability.
Any coroner, deputy coroner or designee thereof, acting in good faith within the scope of his official duties, shall have immunity from any civil liability that might otherwise be incurred or imposed.
Effective: June 17, 1978
History: Created 1978 Ky. Acts ch. 93, sec. 18, effective June 17, 1978.
 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
 
KRS 72.475 Short title.
KRS 72.400 to 72.470 may be cited as "The Kentucky Coroner’s Act of 1978."
Effective: June 17, 1978
History: Created 1978 Ky. Acts ch. 93, sec. 1, effective June 17, 1978
 
 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 
 
 
Penalties
 
KRS 72.992 Penalties.
(1) Any person who violates KRS 72.020(1) or who interferes with the coroner in the lawful performance of his duties shall be fined not less than two hundred fifty dollars ($250), or be confined in jail for not more than ninety (90) days, or both.
(2) Any coroner or deputy coroner who violates KRS 72.025 or 72.020 shall be guilty of willful neglect of official duties and shall be fined no more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) or forfeiture of office or both.
(3) Any law enforcement officer who violates KRS 72.020 shall be guilty of willful neglect of official duties and shall be fined no more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) or forfeiture of office or both.
Effective: July 15, 1982
History: Amended 1982 Ky. Acts ch. 195, sec. 12, effective July 15, 1982. – Created 1978 Ky. Acts ch. 93, sec. 20, effective June 17, 1978.

 
NO ANNOTATIONS FOR THIS STATUTE:
 

 

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