The lawsuit was filed in Travis County’s 53rd Judicial District Court in Austin, where Democratic Judge Scott Jenkins presides.
Represented by Arlington attorney Warren Norred, the plaintiffs’ allegations include elder abuse as well as violations of the Texas Constitution, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Medicaid guidelines.
The plaintiffs also make accusations against Texas Health and Human Services Commission Director Cecile Young.
“After weeks of working with folks who are suffering with the loss of loved ones due only to Gov. Abbott’s top-down edicts shutting down visits to nursing homes, the relatives of loved ones imprisoned by the Governor have had enough,” Norred said in a post on his firm’s website.
“The bottom line of this suit is that Governor Abbott and his band of merry administrators are violating constitutional and statutory rights of Plaintiffs by prohibiting essential family visitors, damaging the health of residents in these facilities, and costing precious time to the residents and their families.”
In an effort to protect the elderly from contracting COVID-19, Abbott barred visitation to nursing homes in an executive order on March 19, which is attached as Exhibit D in the original petition.
Among the plaintiffs is Marcy Renneberg, whose mother, Aline, is a resident of San Gabriel Rehabilitation and Care Center in Round Rock.
Renneberg claims that the defendants’ restrictions on visitation to nursing homes inhibited her ability to care for her mother, who lost her husband in July to COVID-19.
The remaining plaintiffs are Wanda and Leland Webb. Mrs. Webb cares for her husband, who is a resident of Pine Arbor Nursing Home in Silsbee.
“Leland Webb has now tested positive for COVID-19, which must have come into Pine Arbor via a staff member or employee or maybe a vending machine delivery man, since no family members are able to enter the facility,” the suit reads.
“Clearly, the policies defined in GA-28 are not preventing viral spread. They are, however, demonstrably hurting the very people they were intended to safeguard.”
GA-28 refers to another one of Abbott’s executive orders, which he issued on June 26, that re-upped the ban on visiting nursing home residents.
As part of his justification for the order, Abbott invoked Section 418.011 of the Texas Government Code, which states, “The governor is responsible for meeting: (1) the dangers to the state and the people presented by disasters; and (2) disruptions to the state and people caused by energy emergencies.”
The defendants had not replied to a request for comment by the time of publishing.
The text of the lawsuit filed is below.
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Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan. He has coached high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.