Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive



Monday, October 29, 2001

ATTORNEY GENERAL SUES NURSING HOME FOR VIOLATIONS

Park Plaza Nursing Center Cited for Negligence

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today filed suit against the operators of a San Angelo elder care facility. The lawsuit seeks to collect penalties from Park Plaza Nursing Center for failing to protect the health and safety of its residents, including one who apparently died from unusual circumstances.

The suit follows an investigation by the Texas Department of Human Services. Agency inspectors found that the facility failed to meet minimum standards in several areas. On one occasion, a resident died after her head became trapped between a raised bed rail and the mattress. Investigators also found at least 16 occupied resident beds that were unsafe, including loose rails, mattresses that were smaller than the bed frame, and/or with a measured space of 2-4 inches between the rails and mattresses.

"It's appalling that certain irresponsible nursing home operators are mistreating senior Texans," Attorney General Cornyn said. "Those who can't afford to provide adequate care for their residents shouldn't be in business in the first place."

The investigation also found that administrators at the San Angelo facility failed to maintain adequate staffing levels. Only one night nurse was available for giving 25 residents, on different halls, a total of 33 medications. Staff also failed to comply with laws that require the reporting of unnatural deaths to the appropriate local authorities. In addition, the nursing center did not have a system for routine maintenance and repairs of equipment.

"We're not going to put up with facilities that cut corners at the expense of their residents," Cornyn added. "Our state's most vulnerable citizens must be protected."

If a jury finds against the operators of Park Plaza Nursing Center, they would have to pay penalties of $1,000 to $20,000 per violation for each day the facility failed to comply with the law.

Since January 1999, the Texas Attorney General's Office has collected almost $3 million in civil penalties that nursing home facilities have paid to the state.

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