July 9, 2014
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster announced today that a St. Louis County jury found Whispering Oaks Residential Care Facility of Wildwood violated Missouri Drinking Water Law after a three-day water outage at a residential care facility owned by the company. After a four-day trial, Whispering Oaks was ordered to pay $135,000 in penalties.
According to Koster, the company operated an onsite drinking-water well that was the only source of water for the residents of Whispering Oaks Residential Care, a residential care facility for individuals with serious disabilities or mental illnesses. The company also supplied water to a neighboring nursing home where the residents were under 24-hour supervision by a registered nurse.
The Attorney General's Office filed suit after the water system stopped operating in January 2010, resulting in both care facilities losing water. The neighboring facility quickly found an alternative source of water, but for three days the Whispering Oaks facility continued to lack water for sinks, showers and toilets. Sanitary conditions inside the company's facility deteriorated, causing St. Louis County officials to move residents out of the building.
The jury's verdict followed a four-day jury trial. The jury found that the company violated the Missouri Drinking Water Law by failing to maintain adequate water pressure in the system. The jury also found that for nearly two-and-a-half years, the company failed to have a certified operator for the water system and failed to have a plan in place to address emergencies like the one in January 2010.
"These violations resulted in deplorable conditions for the residents of Whispering Oaks Residential Care Facility," said Koster. "I will pursue those who violate Missouri laws and put our most vulnerable citizens at risk."