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Family sues South Austin nursing facility after employee dies from COVID-19

Maurice Dotson. (Photo courtesy: Felicia Dodson-Hill)
Maurice Dotson. (Photo courtesy: Felicia Dodson-Hill)
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51-year old Maurice Dotson's family says he deeply cared for the residents at West Oaks Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in South Austin.

The nurse's aide contracted COVID-19 in early April.

"This case is about self-sacrifice. It's a case about a hero named Maurice Dotson who made the ultimate sacrifice," said Dallas-based attorney Quentin Brogdon.

On April 17, Dotson became the first Texas health care worker to die of COVID-19. He died alone in a hospital and was unable to have friends or family by his side.

"The family is devastated, Maurice's mother is absolutely heartbroken," said attorney Kathleen Kearney. "Just in shock that this has happened,"

Kearney and Brogdon are now representing Dotson's family in a lawsuit filed Wednesday against West Oaks and the facility's operator, Regency Integrated Health Services. The family says Dotson's employer failed to protect him from the virus.

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"The family heard from Maurice directly that he had been taking care of patients without PPE, or without proper PPE," said Kearney. "Very ill, sick patients, even ones that may have died from respiratory illness."

According to the lawsuit, West Oaks was cited for several PPE violations during a surprise inspection conducted by Texas Health and Human Services on March 26.

The suit also claims the facility should have known they needed to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among their staff and patients, as other facilities around the country started to report cases happening in nursing homes.

"He had died from a virus that he should've and could've been prevented from contracting at work," said Brogdon.

West Oaks sent CBS Austin a statement in response to the lawsuit:

We will not comment on any pending legal issues and to date are unaware of any lawsuit filing.

Kearney says Dotson's family ultimately wants to ensure nursing homes are held accountable for protecting everyone who is a part of their facility.

"They hope that other health care providers and their families don't have to go through what they're going through," said Kearney, "And they would like to save the lives of patients going forward."

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The family is seeking $1 million in the lawsuit.

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