The mother of a Tulsa County man who died while undergoing drug rehabilitation treatment at Narconon Arrowhead in Pittsburg County has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the corporation.
Three drug rehabilitation patients have died at Narconon Arrowhead within the past year and families of all three have now filed civil lawsuits against the corporation.
The latest lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Pittsburg County District Court by Shirley Gilliam, the mother of Gabriel Graves, 32.
Graves was found dead in his bed at Narconon Arrowhead on Oct. 26, 2011.
Gilliam says that Narconon Arrowhead treatments rely on the written “technology” of L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the Church of Scientology, “despite the fact that Hubbard had no known training or education in the field of drug or alcohol rehabilitation.”
Treatments included the use of saunas for “purification” and training routines that focused on conditioning students to either give or receive orders, the lawsuit says.
During Graves' stay at Narconon Arrowhead, he “repeatedly evidenced symptoms of feeling ill, headaches and vomiting,” but was never referred to a physician, Gilliam alleges.
Graves was found dead the day after he complained of a terrible headache following sauna treatments, the lawsuit says.
Graves asked for over-the-counter pain relief and permission to see a physician, but was denied both and advised to return to the sauna, the lawsuit alleges.
Gerald D. Wootan, a Tulsa County osteopathic physician and Narconon of Oklahoma's medical director, also is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Gilliam alleges Wootan failed to adequately monitor the treatment of patients, including the use of high doses of niacin.
Narconon of Oklahoma “fraudulently misrepresents to potential students that a physician is on staff 24 hours a day. Instead, a physician is present only once a week,” the lawsuit claims.
Contacted by telephone Wednesday, Dr. Wootan said he couldn't discuss the case because of federal patient privacy regulations.
“Because of HIPAA laws, I can't talk about that,” he said.