Liability, Premises Liability - Written by Beasley Allen on Monday, March 4, 2013 9:35 - 0 Comments

Narconon Settles Wrongful Death Suit

Narconon of Georgia has settled a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the family of a former patient at the facility. The settlement was reached three days before jury selection was to begin in the case. The settlement agreement was sealed and the amount to be paid is confidential. Patrick Desmond died four years ago of a lethal combination of alcohol and opiates while a patient at the Norcross drug treatment facility.

A pre-trial ruling on November 5th by DeKalb County State Court Judge Stacey Hydrick had to help get the case settled. In the order, Judge Hydrick said that Narconon of Georgia “intentionally, willfully and repeatedly provided false and misleading responses to Plaintiff’s discovery requests.” The drug treatment facility’s responses to the allegations in the lawsuit were stricken by the judge.

The suit, filed nearly three years ago in DeKalb County, alleged the rehab clinic duped Desmond’s parents and a Florida drug court into believing it provided in-patient care even though it lacked the proper license. Desmond had been sentenced to six months in a residential facility by a Florida court. Information obtained in the lawsuit and reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution caused the state to reopen an investigation into Narconon of Georgia. In late December, the Department of Community Health informed the clinic its license was being revoked for misrepresenting itself as a residential treatment facility.

Narconon of Georgia appealed the ruling, requesting a hearing as provided by state law. The program’s international arm Narconon International, based in Los Angeles, was also named in the suit. That company denied any linkage to the Norcross facility. Judge Harris said Narconon International had assumed a contractual duty to address problems at clinics bearing its name. She said that the company was “on constant notice there are problems at the housing (component) and they never do anything about it.” Narconon of Georgia remains open pending its appeal.

The program is also being investigated by State Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens after a former patient’s mother alleged her insurer was billed $166,275 for doctor visits that never occurred and treatment that was never provided. Jeff Harris, an Atlanta who represented the Plaintiff, says further legal action against the Church of Scientology-affiliated clinic is being prepared. Jeff, who is with the firm Harris, Penn Lowery DeCampo, said his “investigation into of insurance fraud, illegal housing operations and other potentially illegal activities committed by Narconon of Georgia is ongoing.” Jeff did a very good job in this case. It will be interesting to see what further action will be taken.

Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution

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