$8 million verdict awarded in Oklahoma wrongful death lawsuit

OKLAHOMA CITY - The family of a man who died in a group home in Oklahoma City was awarded an $8 million verdict on Monday by an Oklahoma County jury.

Shannon Adams filed the lawsuit against Renaissance Management Group of Tulsa after her brother, Mitch Boles, died at one of their group homes.

“Maybe it’ll stop it from happening to anybody else’s loved one,” said Adams. “This is the best justice we can get at this point.”

Adams’ brother, Mitch Boles, was 51 years old but had the mind of an 18-month-old.

For 40 years, he lived at SORC, Southern Oklahoma Resource Center, in Pauls Valley, a state-run institution.

But when the state decided to close it in 2012, his family had to find somewhere else for him to go.

Adams says they chose to go with Renaissance Management Group out of Tulsa.

“More or less marketed theirself (sic) to the state and me that they could do this," Adams said "It was a dream come true."

They moved Boles to a group home in northwest Okahoma City run by Renaissance in January of 2014.

But only a month in, Boles had to be hospitalized.

He’d had a seizure and Adams says the employees at the home did not know how to handle it.

“And he was completely limp, they testified. And drug him out of the house on this chair, swung him into a car, unconscious and limp and drove to the doctor’s office,” said Adams. “They killed my brother.”

Mitch Boles, family photo

Mitch Boles, family photo

The Department of Human Services was over SORC and NORCE, Northern Oklahoma Resource Center, in Enid.

They were dropped from the lawsuit before damages were awarded, but a DHS spokesperson told KFOR Boles is the only person transitioned out of both SORC and NORCE whose death has been blamed on the care they received.

The DHS spokesperson says Renaissance no longer cares for people with developmental disabilities.

Adams says she keeps in contact with other SORC families.

“There’s some that are transitioning ok and there are some that are still having a lot of problems transitioning,” said Adams.

She says her verdict was not about the money, but rather a promise she made to her parents, who died shortly after her brother.

“I had promised my dad two years prior that I wouldn’t give up, that I would get justice for Mitch and for their baby,” said Adams.

Renaissance Management Group only has to pay $7.2 million of the $8 million verdict.

The other part of the judgement was against others who cared for Boles after he was hospitalized.

Renaissance sent us the following statement regarding the judgement:

“Renaissance Management Group, Inc., is disappointed in the jury’s verdict, but respects the process by which the jury reached its conclusion. Renaissance intends to work with the attorneys for the family of Mitchell Boles and resolve this matter amicably, in the days to come.”