Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


February 3, 1999

CORNYN FILES SUIT AGAINST NURSING HOME OPERATOR

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today filed suit against Texas Health Enterprises, HEA Management Company, and Peter Kern, the owner of both Texas Health Enterprises and HEA. The lawsuit was filed today in Rusk county district court. This is the first time the Attorney General has sued Mr. Kern individually. Kern's company, THE, has over two dozen Attorney General lawsuits already pending against it, for health and safety code violations in nursing home facilities statewide.

The suit was filed at the request of the Texas Department of Human Services, because of licensing violations found by TDHS during a complaint investigation. Those violations endangered the health and safety of residents at Kilgore Nursing Center. TDHS determined that the violations resulted in the death of one elderly woman. The death was a result of traumatic head injuries the resident suffered after falling during a transfer from her bed to her wheelchair. The aide transferring the woman also fell and landed on top of the resident. TDHS determined that the resident was improperly transferred and that the bed and wheelchair brakes were not properly working.

Another violation found by TDHS involved a woman not getting adequate hydration through her feeding tube. The TDHS investigation determined that the resident's fluid intake was less than what the doctor had ordered. The woman was hospitalized for dehydration.

Mr. Kern's company, THE, already owes more than $400,000 in penalties and attorney's fees to the state. Texas Health Enterprises also owes more than $2 million to the Department of Human Services for administrative penalties relating to Kern's nursing home operations around the State.

In the lawsuit, General Cornyn asks the Court to assess civil penalties against the Defendants up to the maximum of $20,000 per day of violation and to enjoin the Defendants from violating minimum licensing standards for nursing home facilities.

"The action taken today against Mr. Kern and his companies, Texas Health Enterprises and HEA management sends a strong message that endangering the lives of innocent Texans will not be tolerated," stated Attorney General John Cornyn

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Contact Ted Delisi, Heather Browne, or Tom Kelley at (512) 463-2050