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The parents of a severely disabled man who choked to death while eating a hot dog at a day shelter are suing the facility’s operator, claiming negligence. Gregory and Betty Jo Payne filed the lawsuit in Kanawha County, West Virginia Circuit Court against Deaf Education and Advocacy Focus, Inc., a non-profit group based in South Charleston, West Virginia.

Craig Payne, the 22-year-old son of the Paynes who had cerebral palsy, died in February 2007 at DEAF’s West Sattes Adult Day Treatment Center in Nitro. A worker assigned to Payne that day wasn’t trained to work with him and didn’t know he couldn’t eat solid food, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit also alleges that no workers attempted to perform the Heimlich maneuver when Payne began choking; no one immediately called for an ambulance either. The plaintiff’s attorney, Bill Forbes said the workers’ improper training and improper application of protocols caused his clients’ son’s death.

Under pressure from the state, DEAF closed its West Sattes site and another one of its programs in another county in West Virginia. Eighty disabled adults had to be transferred to other programs.

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