Family files wrongful death lawsuit against Narconon Arrowhead rehabilitation center

MCALESTER, Okla. - The parents of a patient found dead in July at a nonprofit drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Pittsburg County have filed a lawsuit against the facility.

According to the petition filed Friday in Pittsburg County District Court, the parents alleging wrongful death, negligence and violation of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act by Narconon Arrowhead are seeking more than $225,000 in damages.

Stacy Dawn Murphy of Owasso, the 20-year-old daughter of Rogers County resident Robert Murphy and Tulsa resident Tonya White, was found dead at the facility July 19.

In the lawsuit, the parents' attorneys call Murphy's death "a real tragedy" and say she and her parents had turned to Narconon and its treatment facility as a safe way to rehabilitate her from drug addiction.

The lawsuit goes on to say that the information provided on the organization's website which helped the parents chose Narconon was "misleading and fraudulent."

Furthermore, it says after Murphy had been admitted and had undergone several weeks of treatment, she requested and was granted a leave of absence – though she did not meet any of the criteria for a leave of absence, violating the facility's own rules.

Her mom, Tonya White, says she came home for a day. White says she returned Stacy to the facility on July 18.

"I hugged her and had no idea that was the last time, that I was going to be able to hug her," White said.

That night, Narconon staff reportedly observed her and believed she was under the influence of drugs sent her to the facility's Withdrawal Unit.

There she was for at least two hours without any nurse or physician on staff within the complex – contrary to formerly made assurances made by staff members to the parents that a physician would be present 24 hours a day, according to the petition.

"Narconon Arrowhead fraudulently tells potential students that a physician is on staff 24 hours a day. Instead, a physician is present only once a week," say the attorneys.

White says she received a call from Narconon Arrowhead CEO Gary Smith the next morning. He told her Stacy had overdosed, and died.

"And I just couldn't believe it was happening. Sometimes I still can't believe it. Still can't believe she's gone," White said.

In the lawsuit, the parents additionally request "punitive damages in an amount sufficient to punish the defendants and deter such reckless conduct in the future."

Stacy's parents want answers. And they want Narconon Arrowhead held accountable.

"Tell the truth. Give us the facts. Let the chips fall where the chips fall. So changes can be made," said Stacy's dad, Robert Murphy.

The attorney handling this case told 2NEWS Friday the family of Gabriel Graves, who died at Narconon Arrowhead last October, also plans on filing a lawsuit against the organization.

2NEWS reached out to Narconon Arrowhead several times on Friday by phone and email. We have not heard back from them.

There are more than 100 Narconon facilities around the world. The drug-free program claims a 70 percent success rate. You can read past statements made by Narconon Arrowhead by clicking on related stories above.

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