Mother Of Scalded Man Sues Institution Workers And State
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
June 1, 2006
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI--The mother of a man who died after being scalded at a state-run institution has sued the state, two facility employees, and the company that manufactured what she claims was a faulty water valve.
Linda Harris filed the civil suit in federal court Thursday over the March 16 death of her 35-year-old son, Rutherford "Rudy" Wallace.
Wallace had intellectual disabilities and was partially paralyzed. He was a resident of Northwest Habilitation Center, an institution housing about 80 people with disabilities, when he received second and third degree burns from being scalded in a bathtub.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the suit accused Northwest employee Michael Miller of failing to test the water before bathing Wallace, causing the man to receive burns over a third of his body.
The suit accuses Setsuko Vizenor, a Northwest nurse, of withholding medical attention for Wallace for an hour after Miller notified her -- even though Wallace's skin "began to redden, slough from his body and blister."
Police have not decided whether criminal charges will be filed.
Post-Dispatch stories from March reported that staff members were accused of putting Wallace to bed after he was scalded and calling for an ambulance rather than 9-1-1 when they noticed his burns. They also allegedly failed to report the incident to police, leaving it up to the hospital to do so.
The Missouri Protection and Advocacy Services, which investigates abuse and neglect within the state mental health system, told the Post-Dispatch that the Missouri Department of Mental Health failed to inform it about the scalding in a timely manner. Instead, the agency learned about the incident from a reporter who phoned the agency to ask questions.
"Mother Wants Answers Over Son's Scalding Death At State-Run Facility" March 23, 2006 (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)
"November Death Of Institution Resident Came To Light In March" April 10, 2006 (Inclusion Daily Express Archives)