McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local News

September 18, 2013

Ruling in Narconon Arrowhead lawsuit postponed

McALESTER — A hearing set Wednesday to decide if Narconon Arrowhead will have to produce documents related to incidents of drug and alcohol use by its staff was instead postponed.

The hearing was continued by mutual agreement by both sides, according to Associate District Judge James Bland, who presided over the court action.

The date for the next hearing will available today, according to the Pittsburg County District Court Clerk’s office.

The hearing is regarding a lawsuit against Narconon filed on behalf of a Narconon graduate now in a vegetative state after overdosing on heroin and Oxycontin.

The suit alleges drugs were given to her by Narconon staff while she was in the program.

Narconon Arrowhead is a drug rehabilitation facility in Canadian.

Judge Bland is expected preside over the hearing as part of pre-trial proceedings in the lawsuit filed in March 2010 on behalf of Heather Landmeier.

The suit states that after graduating from the program, Landmeier relapsed, was readmitted and then kicked out two different times for allegedly violating rules by using drugs and alcohol. The suit alleges those violations occurred after drugs were provided to her by Narconon staff.

The suit alleges that the day after she was removed for the last time, she overdosed in a Tulsa motel room, leaving her in a permanent vegetative state, paralyzed from the neck down.

The lawsuit seeks more than $75,000 and alleges breach of duty of care. Officials at Narconon Arrowhead said they can't comment on the case, but said drugs and alcohol are strictly prohibited at the faciilty.  In  an email Wednesday, Narconon Arrowhead Executive Director Gary Smith said, “We cannot comment on the Landmeier case or any individual student`s case because of Federal laws which prohibit disclosure of such information, as we have previously explained.

 We can tell you generally, without reference to any particular student, that to our knowledge no member of our staff has given drugs or alcohol to any of our students, and that we have zero tolerance for anything like that because it is contrary to everything we stand for.

The same is true for our policy regarding drugs or alcohol on our premises. Both are strictly prohibited. We work constantly to protect our students  every way we can, yet, as with any program such as ours, there will be some students who don`t always follow the rules. When that does occur, we deal with it within our treatment approach, and continue to work with the student unless that student’s conduct presents unacceptable risk to others. The safety and welfare of  every student in the program is of paramount importance to us, as has been demonstrated by our long history of  offering successful drug and alcohol abuse treatment services.”

 

The facility is where three clients were found dead within a nine-month span in 2012. A fourth died in 2009 at local hospital.

The most recent death, the July 2012 death of Stacy Murphy, 20, spurred an ongoing multi-agency investigation. Several lawsuits with allegations of wrongful death have also been filed as a result of the deaths, which also spurred a law from Senate Bill 295, also called “Stacy’s Law,” to regulate facilities such as Narconon Arrowhead.

Other recent suits against Narconon allege credit card and insurance fraud and employees trading drugs for sex.

In March, Narconon Arrowhead’s top executive and several of his employees had their counseling certification revoked by the National Association of Forensic Counselors. In August, Narconon Arrowhead’s medical detox facility in McAlester lost its state certification after a temporary permit expired.

Contact Jeanne LeFlore at jleflore@mcalesternews.com.

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