Murdered Man's Mom Files Suit Against Choctaw Living Center
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion
Daily Express Email News Service.
CHOCTAW, OKLAHOMA, Sept. 27, 2001 --The mother of a man killed by a fellow resident
at a Choctaw nursing facility has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the
administrators and insurers.
Leeha Tucker claims Choctaw Living Center, a facility that housed 75 people
with mental retardation, "allowed and failed to prevent mental and physical
abuse of its patients" including her son, Joe L. "J.J." McCormick Jr.
McCormick, who had autism and spent 24 of his 25 years at the facility, died
on August 30, 2000. A staff member reportedly discovered another resident,
Jerome Vaught standing over McCormick's body with a belt wrapped around
A murder charge against Vaught, 34, who has Down syndrome, was later
Inclusion Daily Express reported last year that some staff members had
encouraged Vaught to be violent, even rewarding him for attacking other
residents including McCormick.
Within weeks of McCormick's death the state Health Department ordered
Choctaw Living Center closed and the residents moved to other facilities.
Last month the facility was sold for $1 million to a limited liability
Tucker says she hopes a jury verdict will compensate her for her grief and
send a warning to other Oklahomans who are contemplating placing a family
member in such a facility.
In the years before it was forced to close, residents at Choctaw Living
Center endured repeated incidents of abuse. And in January of 2000 the body
of one resident was found in her room, five days after she had died.
For past stories on Choctaw Living Center, go to this Inclusion Daily
Express web page:
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