Office of the Attorney General News Release Archive

Monday, November 27, 2000


Appleridge Group Home to pay $1 million in civil penalties

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today announced a $1 million dollar settlement with Texas Home Management Inc., doing business as the Appleridge Group Home, an intermediate care facility for the mentally retarded (ICFMR), in Houston. The settlement was announced today in Harris County open court, moments before a jury was to be selected in the case. This is the largest settlement ever obtained by the Attorney General's Elder Law and Public Health Division against a long-term care facility.

"My top priority is to protect those who can't protect themselves, "said Attorney General Cornyn. "This settlement should serve as a strong warning to care-givers across the State that you will pay the price for neglecting those in your care."

In May of 1998, the Texas Department of Human Services (TDHS) conducted a complaint investigation of the facility. The survey noted conditions that led to the death of 38 year-old Trenia Wright. Wright was diagnosed with moderate mental retardation, cerebral palsy, left hemiparesis and hyperthyroidism.

The TDHS survey noted that while Wright was eating dinner one evening, she had a seizure which led to a behavioral episode. An Appleridge employee responded by pouring bleach on Wright and the floor around where Wright was sitting. As Wright lay yelling that the bleach was burning her, the staff sat on an adjacent patio, eating dinner and ignoring Wright.

Later that evening, another employee rubbed Vaseline over Wright's body, clothed her in dry clothing and put her to bed. The bleach solution was never washed off Wright's body. Another employee told the residential team leader that burns appeared to be forming on Wright's body, but that she thought Wright could wait another day before seeing a doctor.

Wright was taken to the hospital nearly two days after the incident where she died. It was determined that Wright had suffered chemical burns to nearly 40 percent of her body.

The TDHS survey also noted that in a two-year period Wright had fallen at the home over 70 times, yet the staff did nothing to prevent future falls or to develop a behavior program preventing Wright from harming herself.

The Attorney General's Elder Law and Public Health Division has been working on this case with the Texas Department of Human Services since 1998.

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Contact Mark Heckmann, Heather Browne, or Tom Kelley at (512) 463-2050
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