updated 3/27/2009 11:28:43 AM ET 2009-03-27T15:28:43

A woman who claims her mentally disabled son was forced to fight for the entertainment of the staff at a state-run residence filed a lawsuit Thursday against the state.

The civil lawsuit by Inez Hernandez said her son, Armando Hernandez Jr., 21, was injured physically and emotionally after being forced to fight other residents when he lived at Corpus Christi State School in 2007 and 2008.

Hernandez's attorney, Robert Hilliard, said Armando Hernandez repeatedly refused to fight "until he got the crap beat out of him."

"They always made him fight people littler than him because they just wanted to see brutality," he said. "Though Armando has the mind of a 12-year-old, he's a fairly stout looking guy. They'd find weaker looking opponents."

The suit said the state Department of Aging and Disability Services, which oversees the facilities, was negligent in failing to properly screen and supervise its employees, failing to provide a safe and hazard-free facility for state school residents and failing to provide immediate medical attention for Armando Hernandez, among other allegations.

The suit, which seeks unspecified damages, said employees encouraged the brawls and were allowed to have and use cell phones to record the fights, a point that Hernandez' attorney said allowed her to bypass the state's immunity from lawsuits.

Roll of cell phones
Hilliard said the state agency can't be sued except in certain instances, such as when the "injury was contributed to by the use of tangible personal property."

"If not for the cell phones, we never would have identified the issues; but for the cell phones they never would have been subject to a suit," he said.

State officials have said they are investigating the allegations and that the agency is committed to giving residents proper care. Laura Albrecht, the Aging and Disability Services' spokeswoman, said Thursday she couldn't comment on the suit because the department had not seen it.

Six former or current employees accused of encouraging fights have been charged with injury to a disabled person.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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