Tuesday, September 13, 2005

New Orleans Nursing Home Owners Charged With Negligent Homicide

In a day of reckoning across battered New Orleans,the owners of a nursing home were charged in the deaths of dozens of patients killed by Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters, the death toll in Louisiana jumped to 423, and the mayor warned that the city is broke, unable to make its next payroll.
Mayor C. Ray Nagin said the city was working "feverishly" with banking and federal officials to secure lines of credit through the end of the year.
Amid the discouraging news, there were also clear signs of progress on many fronts: The New Orleans airport reopened to commercial flights, the port resumed operations, and the mayor said dry sections of the ravaged city — including the French Quarter and the central business district — could be reopened during the daytime as early as Monday, provided the Environmental Protection Agency finds the air and water are safe.
"We're out of nuclear-crisis mode and into normal, day-to-day crisis mode," Nagin saidThe death toll climbed by more than half in a single day to 423, including last week's grisly discovery of 34 dead patients and staff members at St. Rita's nursing home in the town of Chalmette in hard-hit St. Bernard Parish.
Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti charged the husband-and-wife owners of St. Rita's with 34 counts of negligent homicide for not doing more to save their elderly patients. The case represents the first major prosecution to come out of the hurricane.
"The pathetic thing in this case was that they were asked if they wanted to move them and they did not," Foti said. "They were warned repeatedly that this storm was coming. In effect, their inaction resulted in the deaths of these people.".


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