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After Years of Trying, Mother Can Sue State Over Son's Abuse at Denton State School

Last year, Jesse Hyde wrote several stories for the Dallas Observer and Unfair Park about Farhat Chishty's quest for justice for her son Haseeb, who, till last fall, had been one of 630 residents at Denton State School -- where, in 2002, Haseeb was savagely beaten by a caregiver who later admitted to being in a drug-fueled rage. (He was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the assault.) Supervisors at the school were accused of covering up the beating, and in 2004, Farhat filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of her son against the state, in which she demanded enough money to allow for her to care for Haseeb, at home, for the rest of his life. But, as Jesse wrote last October, "The lawsuit was dismissed on grounds of sovereign immunity, which protects the state from civil suits." Said Farhat, "I am losing faith in the state ever being able to correct the wrong it committed against me."

But as the Austin American-Statesman notes this morning, the state Senate voted 24-7 to allow Farhat to sue the state after all. Reports Ken Herman, the vote "came just over four hours before the deadline for action on the measure and marked the first time since 2001 that lawmakers voted to allow anyone to sue the state." Dallas's John Carona introduced the measure -- a similar one failed in 2007 -- and said after its passage, "The testimony reveals gross mismanagement of the personnel there at the facility, rampant drug use. Just horrible, horrible conditions existed." The measure is now in the hands of Governor Rick Perry.

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