LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The parents of a 27-year-old man who died of a fentanyl overdose at a drug and alcohol recovery center in 2020 have reached a settlement with the Echo Park facility.
Plaintifs Jon Kent Zediker and Kathleen Ennis brought the wrongful death suit in Los Angeles Superior Court in February 2021 against the Dream Center Foundation, which operates a 24-hour residential facility on Bellevue Avenue with ties to the Angelus Temple, a Pentecostal house of worship affiliated with the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.
On Friday, an attorney for the couple filed court papers with Judge Lisa R. Jaskol informing her that the case was resolved. No terms were revealed. The judge canceled the scheduled Oct. 10 trial.
In their court papers, Dream Center Foundation attorneys denied the plaintiffs' allegations and said any damages they suffered were caused by their son's own negligence.
Zediker and Ennis maintained their late son, Jonathan Scott Hand, obtained the drugs from a roommate who also died at the same facility the previous day of an overdose.
"Drugs were brought into defendants' facility because they lacked the necessary staff to perform effective searches of incoming residents and residents returning from a (temporary leave)," the plaintiffs' attorneys stated in their court papers. "The insufficient staffing of defendants' program is a direct result of their failure to obtain a license and subsequent lack of regulation by the state."
The program director stated in a deposition that the program remains unlicensed and disclosures are not made to incoming members that it is unlicensed, according to the plaintiffs' attorneys' court papers.
"The way the program is operated, which is in violation of California law, directly led to the death of Jonathan," the plaintiffs' attorneys argued in their court papers.
State regulation would have required increased and improved staffing so that drugs would not so easily have entered the facility and Hand would have been searched in addition to being drug-tested when his roommate overdosed, according to the plaintiffs' attorneys' court papers.
Instead, the Dream Center employed three unqualified people to supervise about 145 individuals, the plaintiffs' attorneys alleged in their court papers.
Hand had a history of addiction and became a resident of the Dream Center facility in January 2020. He acknowledged his dependency on alcohol and drugs and sought to overcome his condition, according to the suit.
Prior to Hand's admission, the Dream Center staff assured Hand and his parents that the residential program was appropriate for him and the employees had the skills to treat his problem because they had helped thousands of other people in his shoes, according to the complaint.
On Feb. 8, 2020, the Dream Center staff became aware that Hand's roommate brought illicit drugs onto the premises and that same day the roommate died of a drug overdose at the facility, the complaint said.
The plaintiffs maintain the Dream Center staff should have known drug use by other residents would increase the risk that other individuals, including Hand, would also be encouraged to use narcotics. However, the center did not have adequate policies and procedures to search for illicit drugs on its premises, the suit alleged.
On Feb. 9, 2020, less than 24 hours after his roommate's overdose, Hand was found dead in his room, according to the suit.
The Dream Center holds itself out as offering a safe, drug-free environment for obtaining treatment for addiction yet did not follow its own policies and procedures, let alone state regulations, that govern addiction rehabilitation facilities and are designed to protect people like Hand, the suit alleged.