Medical waste company sues Sanford Health over human torso found in plastic container

A medical waste company has filed a lawsuit against Sioux Falls, S.D.-based Sanford Health, alleging the system planted a human torso at the facility. 

The plaintiff, Monarch Waste Technologies, disposes of Sanford Health's medical waste. It is suing Sanford and Healthcare Environmental Services, a company overseen by the health system, for inappropriate handling and delivery of regulated medical waste. 

The lawsuit alleges HES delivered a "human torso in a sealed plastic container" to Monarch, and had an HES employee sign for the remains when a Monarch employee should have done so. Monarch never deals with human bodies, its CEO David Cardenas told local news station KFYRTV

"Typically, recognizable body parts that big, like a torso with things cut off, that goes to proper treatment for a crematorium, not through a shredder," Mr. Cardenas told the news station. "And especially when it's done under cover of us not knowing. It's just disturbing." 

Monarch's staff discovered the body earlier this year when investigating a "rotten and putrid smell," according to local radio station WDAY. It has not been determined who the body belongs to or how it ended up in the conditions it was found in. 

Monarch alleges the torso was placed there intentionally by Sanford and HES in an effort to get out of a 10-year lease agreement and a 10-year disposal agreement that began in 2020. They engaged in "surreptitious activities early in the morning, before Monarch staff arrived, designed to falsely show that Monarch has mismanaged the medical waste at the treatment facility," the lawsuit says. Specifically, Monarch alleges an HES employee was caught on surveillance cameras entering the facility and staging photographs "intended to create the appearance that MWT's facility was disorganized and out of compliance with applicable agreements and state laws."

Sanford Health refutes these allegations. 

"We deny any wrongdoing, will vigorously defend against Monarch's claims, and will file our own claims against Monarch for its demonstrated failure to provide waste disposal services it was contractually obligated to provide," a Sanford Health representative told Becker's June 27. "We look forward to the details relating to this matter coming to light during the course of this litigation."

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