Abbott Wants Perry Removed As Defendant In Lawsuit

By Andrea Lucia & Matt Goodman, CBSDFW.COM

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – State Attorney General Greg Abbott has filed a motion to remove Gov. Rick Perry from a lawsuit that claims he and other state officials violated the Americans With Disabilities Act by confining thousands of disabled individuals in nursing homes across the state without offering them the option to choose a different facility.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Dec. 2010 and seeks class-action status, is on behalf of six plaintiffs who say they were each “unnecessarily institutionalized” in nursing homes and alleges more than 4,500 others were across the state, as well.

The litigation doesn’t ask for money; it asks for change. And it doesn’t target the nursing homes, instead, it goes after state officials.

Perry tops that list. Abbott’s office has fired back with a motion to have the governor removed from the lawsuit, claiming he is not responsible.

Disability advocates, however, disagree.

“As the chief executive officer for the state, we feel that he’s certainly the appropriate person to have in the lawsuit since he’s ultimately responsible as the governor to make sure Texas is complying with federal law,” said Garth Corbett, spokesman for Disability Rights Texas.

Perry declined to comment on the litigation, but his deputy press secretary said the governor expects the Department of Aging and Disability Services to ensure that the most vulnerable Texans get proper care.

Dallas resident Benny Holmes, 32, has never spoken a word. He was born with cerebral palsy and mental retardation, and in 2009 wound up in the hospital with epilepsy.

He was discharged to a nursing home, where his mother says he became depressed and withdrawn.

“If I ever hated a place, I hated that place,” said Priscilla Holmes, his mother. “They would sit Benny in this dayroom, for him to be there all day.”

When she tried to move him to a community center closer to their home, she found she couldn’t.

“They said they didn’t want Benny to leave there,” Holmes said.

Dallas-based attorney Yvette Ostolaza is representing Benny and the five other plaintiffs in the lawsuit pro bono.

“(Benny’s) mother was told he couldn’t be taken care of at home, and that she essentially would be a bad mother if she brought him back home,” Ostolaza said. “She was made to feel that was her only option.”

Thomas Suehs, Executive Commissioner of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, and Chris Traylor, Commissioner of the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, are named in the suit along with Perry.

Corbett said the lawsuit could force those state leaders to follow federal laws that he says have been ignored for more than 22 years. The laws guarantee specialized services to the developmentally disabled “up to the point where they can be as independent as possible,” Corbett said.

“They were being warehoused in nursing homes instead of being moved to less restrictive community centers,” he added. “That did not occur, and it’s not occurring statewide.”

With Corbett’s help, Benny was finally moved to a community home two years after being placed in the nursing home. He now has his own room, his own wheelchair and regular physical therapy.

Within months, his mother said he put on 40 pounds. She said he regained his health, and even started to smile again.

“I thought Benny would never smile, I thought he would never feel like he’s a person again,” she said. “But when I saw him smile? That was the best joy I ever felt.”

“We got him out,” she added. “And if we can get Benny out, we can get others out.”

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  • Harry Hickey

    Just more stuff the governor is not doing for Texans what a shame.

  • Laura S

    Greg Abbott wants Perry removed because now that he is running for President all the truths are coming out about him and he is afraid Perry will not back him.

  • JustMe

    So, when did the family stop being responsible for caring for its members, and the government became responsible? (And not to the limited degree of caring for disabled people, but caring for them in the manner their non-care-giving relatives demand?)

  • VFW American

    Perry looks and sounds just like a West Texas used car salesman. This guy has done nothing positive for the state of Texas. He tried to steal Texans land and give it to the Spanish for the worlds largest Toll Road? Texas is 42nd in education spending, Teaxs has the highest utilities in the country, the highest auto insurance, highest property taxes and the list could go on for ever with what Bush and Perry has done to our fine state. He will not deal with the Illegal Aliens as he and the rest of the peolpe that run this state have some of this cheap labor working for them.

  • p Miller

    Let me just guess whose taxes are paying for his nursing bet it is not his mommas

  • NiteNurse

    When you run for president you gotta be ready to have every part of your life and career be on display, warts and all!

    • Slick Rick

      A Perry Drone: “You’re staying here at this facility, you g-dd-mn whining gimp – and take this state-mandated vaccine, mofo!”

      • A. Schickelgruber


  • Rick McDaniel

    I have seen this happen to people, and am totally opposed to the process that was used. The state needs to make changes, that protect the citizen’s rights, and prevent abuse by the legal system, of seniors.

  • S. McLendon

    Kudo’s to you CBS for exposing the truth. This happened to my 23 yr old Traumatic Brain injured son. He was neglected and abused and died with Aspiration Pneumonia, he choked on his own vomit and the nursing home refused to take him to the hospital that was attached to the nursing home in Glen Rose, Texas. Aspiration Pneumonia is both treatable and curable. I argued he was sick and they kept teling me he was fine. Laws must change! Hurrah for the class action group! Stick to your guns!

  • Texas Probate Victim

    What happened to transperancy? Perry ignores pleas of help from Texans who are victims of the greedy, abusive, and exploitive players in his political circle. Instead of shielding him from this lawsuit, he should be included in others that could provide relief for Texas citizens who have been financially, emotionally, and mentally devistated by the unjust jurisprudence systems and processes he has supported.

  • SM

    Texas has a program called HCS (Home Community Support) where he could have lived at home and had attendant care there. It’s a shame the mother was not made aware of this program. Since he was in a nursing home, he would have been able to have the service with no waiting period.

  • Bob Bridges

    I question the intent behind the article. If it was to expose a flaw in our medical system then a “good job” is in order. If it was to paint Rick Perry in a negative light, then I as are many others weary of this type of yellow journalism. It was short sighted of our founding fathers not to add fair to the free clause granted to the press. It would be refreshing if you would be neutral in reporting the news and not offer biased opinions. I have been a devoted follower of Channel 11 for over 50 years, but now I am fed up with slanted, bias journalism. I want the news, not someones opinion or political view of it.

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