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Whistleblower placed on leave after complaint against Pierce County medical examiner

Pierce County Associate M.E. Dr. Megan Quinn was placed on paid administrative leave pending an investigation into possible misconduct. In January, Quinn filed a whistleblower complaint against Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Clark.

A whistleblower who prompted an investigation into Pierce County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Clark has been placed on paid administrative leave.

A Pierce County spokesperson said Thursday that Associate Medical Examiner Dr. Megan Quinn is on leave pending an investigation into possible misconduct regarding a potential conflict of interest, disclosing confidential information, inappropriate workplace behavior including insubordination, violating Pierce County Code 3.12.030, and/or allegedly violating the county’s equal employment opportunity policy.

Quinn is not allowed to act in any official capacity while on leave. 

“This is an absolute outrage,” said Joan Mell, Dr. Quinn’s attorney. 

Quinn, who is second-in-command at the Medical Examiner’s office, filed a whistleblower complaint against Clark with the county’s human resources department in January. She said Clark is a danger to the community and should be removed from the job.

Mell said her client is being unfairly attacked for shining light on the medical examiner.

A Pierce County spokesperson confirmed Thursday the investigation into the complaint filed by Quinn against Clark is ongoing. 

"I believe he deliberately makes a decision to take shortcuts, to ignore standards of practice,” Quinn told KING 5 in January.

She called Clark lazy, sloppy, an embarrassment to the county, and someone putting residents at risk.

Quinn said she believes Clark has ruled deaths to be accidental when they may have been homicides by refusing to be objective during investigations. 

Her complaint cited two cases involving children. Quinn said Clark did not allow the office to perform thorough autopsies on the children.

Quinn said doctors believed the death of a 15-month-old girl in January might have been a result of abuse, but Clark ruled it an accident. She contacted police and the state about abuse concerns. 

"By my judgment, there is a good chance we have left in place an individual who has demonstrated a proclivity to child abuse,” said Quinn. “And we have left that individual in the home where there is another child, and that to me is unconscionable.”

Clark is not commenting on the complaint.

Clark was appointed by then-County Executive Pat McCarthy in 2010 and was later re-appointed by current Executive Bruce Dammeier.

In a written statement from January, Dammeier confirmed the county had started an investigation into the complaint.

“We are committed to upholding the highest medical and ethical standards in the Medical Examiner’s office,” Dammeier said in the statement.

Clark is set to make more than $266,000 in 2019, which would make him the highest paid Pierce County Employee.

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