A Fort Bend County widow is calling out a medical examiner in a new lawsuit, claiming he’s intentionally withholding her husband’s cause of death.
Simon Atkinson died from a gunshot wound at his Sugar Land home in 2020 with no signs of foul play, But years later, Yvette Atkinson still doesn’t have an official cause of death, meaning she cannot access the insurance policy.
Yvette Atkinson’s attorney, Ty Clevenger, argues that the buck stops with County Judge KP George and county commissioners because the medical examiner answers to them. The lawsuit was filed on Dec. 13 against Fort Bend County Medical Examiner Stephen Pustilnik and other county officials, but this ongoing battle still doesn’t have a resolution.
Simon Atkinson died at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and according to lawsuit documents, his business had taken a big hit. That suit went on to say in a result of those pressures, he took his own life.
“The police (who) investigated it found no evidence of foul play. A medical examiner conducted an autopsy and found no evidence of foul play. And yet two and a half years later, the medical examiner has not issued a death certificate with the cause of death,” Clevenger said.
The lawsuit alleges Pustilnik withheld Simon Atkinson’s cause of death after getting into a heated argument with Yvette Atkinson’s brother when he called after the autopsy was performed, asking why the cause of death hadn’t been released.
“We think this guy, Pustilnik, is just being petty, vindictive, and is throwing his weight around,” Clevenger continued. “We’ve investigated and, normally, these cases are resolved in a month or two.”
Reporters reached out to Pustilnik to get his side of things but was told by his office, “no comment.” In addition to being a pathologist, many know him for being a famous knife maker.
As for the county judge and commissioners, the county attorney sent Eyewitness News the following statement:
“We have not been officially served. We cannot comment on pending litigation at this time.”
Atkinson’s insurance policy was for $1 million in 2020. Still, with his business being the sole income for his family and rising costs since then, Clevenger said at this point, it makes sense to double the damages. They hope the lawsuit will be the start of holding Pustilnik’s feet to the fire.
“The guy is just out of control and the commissioners aren’t doing anything about it,” Clevenger said.
For Yvette Atkinson, this isn’t just about money or legalities. Her attorney said she has suffered a lot emotionally, and still had to focus on raising her son after her husband’s tragic death. Reporters were told she cannot finish the grieving process until this matter is settled.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 or dial 988. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also text HOME to 741741 to connect with a counselor from anywhere in the United States.