Angelo Amato is a mixed martial arts fighter who had become addicted to the pain killer Vicodin to deal with chronic pain after undergoing three surgeries. In December of 2013, Angelo began searching the Internet for help in finding a drug rehabilitation facility for himself.
According to Angelo’s lawsuit against Narconon Fresh Start out of Warner Springs, California, he called a 1-800 number where an “independent consultant” referred him to Narconon. Angelo, according to the complaint, soon received a call from Dan Carmichael, an employee of Narconon.
The lawsuit alleges that Carmichael represented to Angelo that the New Life Detoxification Program had been scientifically and medically proven to be effective. Carmichael is alleged to have stated that the Narconon program had a 76% success rate, a figure also represented on the firm’s website.
According to the complaint, Carmichael further falsely represented to Angelo: (1) that while undergoing detox at Narconon, Angelo would be under the care of a doctor or nurse at all times; (2) that Narconon would provide Angelo with extensive drug and addiction counseling; (3) that Narconon staff are properly trained to care for and treat persons with addiction; and (4) that Angelo’s health insurance would reimburse 50% of the cost of the Narconon program. Based on these representations, Angelo agreed to enter the Narconon program at its facility in Warner Springs, California.
Angelo, like all patients at Narconon, was required to undergo the detox sauna program according to the complaint. Narconon calls this program the “New Life Detoxication” program. Under the New Life Detoxification program, it is alleged that students first exercise vigorously before entering the sauna each day. On entering the sauna, Narconon allegedly requires each student to ingest increasing doses of Niacin and a “vitamin bomb.” Narconon according to the lawsuit increased Angelo’s dosages of Niacin up to 5,000 mg/day – well beyond the recommended daily allowance.
Narconon, according to the complaint, allegedly requires students to spend six hours per day for five weeks in a sauna at temperatures between 160 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit. The lawsuit states that there are no medical personnel overseeing Narconon students undergoing the sauna program and that there is only a “sauna supervisor” who sits outside the sauna while the students are inside. The sauna supervisor is alleged to not have any special training to deal with medical issues, and serves primarily to police the students for compliance with the sauna regimen.
When Angelo started his detox, he claims there were no doctors or nurses supervising his detox, despite the promise. Instead, he states that there was only a 19-year-old kid without any apparent medical training who was supposed to monitor him.
Not only does Narconon’s New Life Detoxification fail to live up to Narconon’s claims about its benefits, it is alleged that the sauna program is dangerous. By having students ingest extreme doses of Niacin and other vitamins while sitting in extreme temperatures for hours, the complaint states that the sauna program unnecessarily exposes students to serious health risks including severe dehydration.
In a prior lawsuit, Dr. Louis A. Casal, an expert retained by Narconon International and Narconon of Northern Georgia in a wrongful death suit filed against those entities, testified at a deposition that there is no scientific basis for the notion that sweating in a sauna detoxifies a person’s body or treats addiction.
The Narconon “Treatment” Program consists of two components: (1) course materials consisting of eight books by L. Ron Hubbard; and (2) a sauna and vitamin program known as the “New Life Detoxification Program.” Narconon had Angelo study eight course books written by L. Ron Hubbard, often for twelve hours per day.
Despite Narconon’s representations that Angelo would receive counseling, at no point did Narconon staff ever speak to Angelo about the specifics of his life or his drug use and its causes. In fact, no one at Narconon ever spoke to Angelo about his substance abuse at all. Angelo received no education about substance abuse, its causes and effects, or methods to deal with his addiction. Instead, Angelo received instruction only in Scientology.
Angelo sued Narconon for Breach of Contract. Instead of receiving drug and alcohol treatment, Angelo received Scientology. He also sued for fraud and misrepresentations along with negligence.
Attorneys David Miller and Jonathan Little continue to review potential liability lawsuits for patients of Narconon. Call attorney Jonathan Little at (317) 721-9214 or fill out the form to see if you are eligible to file a lawsuit against Narconon.