Wrongful Death Lawsuit Hits L.A. Rehab Center Following THR Investigation
Embattled A-list Hollywood rehab One80 Center -- which on Thursday saw its CEO and clinical director ousted by company investors after an expose about its care practices was published in The Hollywood Reporter -- has been hit with a lawsuit filed by the parents of deceased client Andrew Witkoff. He died of an OxyContin overdose at its since-shuttered Sunset Plaza Drive sober living home two years ago at the age of 22.
Steven Witkoff, a wealthy Manhattan real estate mogul whose holdings include the Woolworth Building, and his wife, Lauren, allege wrongful death, negligence and fraud against One80, as well as three named defendants: terminated CEO Alex Shohet; his wife, former clinical director Bernadine Fried; and Justin Carroll, a co-founder of the rehab center who departed in July.
The complaint, filed on August 9 in Los Angeles Superior Court and obtained by THR, condemns the facility for its alleged lack of monitoring oversight in allowing Witkoff to leave its facilities unattended, shirk his urine tests and buy illicit drugs online while in residence. “The reality is that inappropriate levels of freedom, and lackadaisical and inadequate supervision, was and is provided to clients,” according to the complaint.
Further, the Witkoffs allege the $1,000-a-day sober companion provided for their son was not, as promised, properly trained and did not supervise him when he left the premises. Rather, this person “had no formal training in the field of substance abuse counseling and treatment, and was given little if any on-the-job training prior to being assigned.” (The companion, a recovering alcoholic himself, had previously been a driver at One80 tasked with chauffeuring clients to treatment appointments.)
The Witkoffs seek unspecified punitive damages, but their chief legal counsel, New York-based attorney Robert Gold, insists the family is not concerned with money.
“Their only interest in pursuing this lawsuit,” he says, “is to prevent other families from suffering the loss of loved ones battling addiction at the hands of people in positions of power in the recovery industry who demonstrate an unconscionable disregard for their clients’ best interest.”
Shohet, Fried and interim One80 CEO Edward Kislinger -- the lead investor behind the company, who led the effort to oust the couple in the past week -- did not respond to requests for comment. Carroll could not be reached.
THR has learned that the family of Jean Galletta, the other on-site fatality discussed in the Aug. 7 investigative story, is also now considering legal action. The LAPD has opened a probe into both deaths since the article first appeared.
Read the complaint below.