McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Local News

September 25, 2013

Judge rules Narconon Arrowhead must produce documents

McALESTER — A judge ruled today that Narconon Arrowhead must produce documents related to alleged incidents of drug and alcohol use by its staff, trainees and students.

Associate District Judge James Bland made the ruling Wednesday in Pittsburg County District Court.

The original hearing date of Sept. 25 was postponed until Wednesday by mutual agreement of both parties,

During Wednesday hearing Judge Bland ruled that Narconon attorneys will have to produce records of alleged incidents of employees, trainees and students using illegal drugs and alcohol from 2004 until 2010.

During the hearing Narconon Attorney Bill Pettigrew said he would produce the documents within 15 days.

The ruling was part of pre-trial proceedings in a lawsuit filed in March 2010 on behalf of Heather Landmeier 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 that uses Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s teachings.

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.

The parents of two Narconon clients found dead at the facility were also at the hearing.

Robert Murphy father of Stacy Murphy and Shirley Gilliam the mother of Gabriel Graves sat in court gallery

and watched as the judge made his ruling.

Both Gilliam and Robert Murphy said they felt positive about Wednesdays proceeding.

“We are very pleased with the court ruling, Judge Bland said they have to produce the documents” Robert Murphy said.

Meanwhile after Wednesday’s hearing Donald Smolen representing the Landmeier family said the ruling was a significant step in the case.”

“This is part on ongoing dispute about whether Narconon employees, staff and patients used illegal drugs and alcohol,” said Smolen,

“It’s a significant step to finding out the whole truth.”

Narconon Attorney Bill Pettigrew said he couldn’t comment on the case because of the privacy issues of the Narconon clients.

Officials at Narconon Arrowhead have stated that can’t comment on the case, but said drugs and alcohol are “strictly prohibited” at the facility.

In an e-mail last week, 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.

Meanwhile the Narconon Arrowhead 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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