Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive


Tuesday, April 27, 1999

CORNYN FILES SUIT AGAINST NURSING HOME OPERATORS

Action taken against owners of Palestine nursing home

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today announced the filing of a lawsuit against Senior Health Center, Diamond Care, INC., Rick Ruble, Terri Ruble, and Billy D. Jewell, III. The suit was filed in Anderson county district court.

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 Senior Health Center. TDHS determined that violations resulted in the death of one resident.

The death was a result of staff ignoring the elderly woman's call for help as she complained of a cough and shortness of breath. The resident called for help at

11:00 p.m., but she was not evaluated until 6:00 a.m. The nurse who checked on the resident, found the woman with no vital signs and rigor mortis had already started setting in. The resident's cause of death was determined as myocardial infarction or heart attack. TDHS determined that on the night the resident died, there was only one nurse aide and two LVNs on duty to care for 71 residents, 41 of whom were totally dependent. TDHS also determined that 2 staff members said they saw the Charge Nurse asleep at her desk during the night.

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.

The Attorney General has already taken action on 4 other homes managed or operated by the Jewell family. In all 4 cases, court appointed trustees took control of the homes. To date, each trustee has been discharged, but the civil penalty portion of the 4 lawsuits is still pending.

The Attorney General's Elder Law and Public Health Division has filed 12 lawsuits against Texas nursing homes since General Cornyn took office.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Kevin Raymond in the Elder Law and Public Health Division of the Office of the Attorney General.

- 30 -


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