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New rules meant to stop future tragedies

By Nolan Clay Modified: September 26, 2007 at 7:49 am •  Published: September 26, 2007
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GUTHRIE — The Department of Human Services agreed Tuesday to implement new safety procedures in the care of the developmentally disabled to settle a lawsuit over a scalding death in Tulsa.

DHS officials — meeting in Guthrie — also agreed to pay $135,000 to the mother of Julie Teenor. The profoundly retarded woman died in 2005 weeks after she was scalded in a bathtub at her home in Tulsa.

DHS paid Gatesway Foundation, a nonprofit agency, to provide living services to Teenor and others who are developmentally disabled. Teenor, 38, was burned by hot water Aug. 10, 2005, after a Gatesway employee placed her in a bathtub and allegedly left her unattended. A maintenance man had worked on the hot water heater the day before. An anti-scald device that should have controlled the water's temperature was allegedly defective.

Teenor had 10 skin graft surgeries after the accident and "spent the last few weeks of her life in a constant state of great pain, suffering and agony,” according to the lawsuit.

She died Sept. 30, 2005.

New regulations

DHS will require its service providers to inspect and test anti-scald devices annually, an agency attorney said.

"The results of such inspections shall be reported to and reviewed by DHS,” attorney Richard Freeman Jr. said. "Hopefully, these changes will prevent the tragic events that gave rise to this case from recurring in the future.”

Other settlements

Teenor's mother also reached confidential settlements with Gatesway Foundation, the maker of the anti-scald device at Teenor's home and the maintenance man, the DHS attorney said.

DHS continuing coverage