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Corpus Christi, Texas

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Rey Pena
Rey Pena
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State School Lawsuit Raises Awareness of Abuse of the Handicapped

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What is coming to light regarding the atrocities at the Corpus Christi State School is nothing short of shocking. There is now evidence that the residents, all mentally disabled, were subjected to many types of cruelty at the hands of the staff hired by the State of Texas to care for them. Residents were forced to fight each other bare fisted while the very people paid to care for them crudely recorded the fights on their phone cameras.

Even after pleas from the residents to leave them alone, and that they did not want to fight, state school staff used the residents’ mental disabilities to deceive, coerce, and humiliate them into compliance. They were told if they do not fight each other they would go to jail, or they would get beat up by the staff, and many of these threats were carried out in gruesome fashion. Why did the supervising authorities do nothing about what was going on? They were told repeatedly about these problems according to family members of the victims. This exploitation went on at the very least for a year, but who really knows how long its been going on? Something needs to be done to hold the perpetrators and those who allowed it to happen whether directly or through indifference accountable.

Many residents are already taking action to put a stop to this abuse. The Nueces County District Attorney’s Office has already filed charges against several state school employees, and arrests have been made. My law firm, Hilliard Munoz Guerra LLP, has filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services alleging a multitude of negligence claims such as failing to properly screen and hire employees, failure to supervise employees, and failing to protect residents. The Texas Tort Claims Act does not allow injury lawsuits against state agencies for intentional acts such as assault – only for negligent acts. There are sovereign immunity barriers, as well, that we will have to deal with, as have other families with loved ones who have been victimized by atrocities at other state schools.

Thankfully there is a bill sponsored by Representative Lon Burnam in the State Legislature that, if passed, would allow agencies such as state schools to be held accountable for these types of atrocities, and not allow such dispicable conduct to go unaccounted. Our law firm hopes that everyone who reads this post or hears about the lawsuit will take the time to do what they can to raise awareness about this very serious issue, and support the passing of Representative Burnam’s bill.