Agenda Item
Docket No. 17-753
Advisory opinion request by Dr. Christy Montegut, St. John the Baptist Parish Coroner, regarding whether the Board may grant a partial waiver of La. R.S. 42:1119 to St. John the Baptist Parish Coroner's Office due to the projected increase in required examinations.
Dr. Montegut has operated a private medical practice in LaPlace for thirty-seven years and served as the Coroner of St. John the Baptist Parish Coroner for almost thirty years. He practices with three other physicians, Dominic Arcuri, Michael Arcuri, and Christian Montegut, at the Family Doctor Clinic of LaPlace. Both Dr. Arcuris are Deputy Coroners and assist him in the Coroner's duties of death pronouncements, Orders for Protective Custody, and Coroner's Emergency Certificates (CEC) among other duties. CEC exams must be performed by a licensed physician and cannot be done by a nurse practitioner or physician's assistant. The duties of Coroner are performed at their medical practice office.
River Parishes Behavioral Health Hospital (Hospital) is opening an in-patient psychiatric facility in September of 2017. The plan is for an eighty-two bed facility which is expected to reach near capacity within six months due to the extreme shortage of in-patient psychiatric beds in Louisiana. The operators expect between two thousand five hundred to three thousand (2,500-3,000) admissions yearly once the facility reaches its maximum staffing. The Hospital anticipates that eighty percent of their admissions will be via physician emergency certificate, which by law requires the parish coroner to perform a psychiatric examination within seventy-two hours to confirm the necessity for emergency admission. This is the Coroner's CEC. A rough estimate is that this will require between two thousand two hundred to two thousand five hundred (2,200-2,500) CEC exams to be performed yearly by the Coroner's Office, which is approximately two hundred a month.
The elder Dr. Arcuri has notified Dr. Montegut that he intends on winding down his medical practice and is not interested in performing these additional CEC exams. Dr. Montegut has contacted other physicians in the St. John, St. James and St. Charles Parishes and no one is willing to do these examinations. He reached out to psychiatrists in Jefferson Parish and they have no intent in traveling to his parish for the exams. Only Dr. Montegut and the remaining Dr. Arcuri will be available to complete the exams and that this would create a tremendous burden on Dr. Montegut in addition to his medical practice. Dr. Montegut's son, Dr. Christian Montegut, is willing to assist in the CEC examinations but would not perform any other duties as a Deputy Coroner.
La. R.S. 42:1113A(1)(a) provides that no public servant shall bid on or enter into any contract, subcontract, or other transaction that is under the supervision or jurisdiction of the agency of such public servant.

La. R.S. 42:1119A prohibits an immediate family member of an agency head from being employed within his agency.

Adopt draft opinion.
Assigned Attorney: Brett Robinson
2017-753 Draft Opinion
2017-753 Advisory Opinion Request
2017-753- Additional Information