Published Friday, March 13, 2009 5:15 PM PDT


Narconon settles lawsuit with full refund

Florida man claimed his brother was molested, discriminated against at the rehab home.

The Newport Beach-based drug and alcohol rehabilitation home Narconon agreed to refund a Florida man’s money on Friday after he sued, claiming his brother was sexually molested, forced to scrub pots and pans and take unspecified pills that made him ill at the treatment center.

“The parties are settling for a full refund. Any allegations in the lawsuit are never going to get to trial,” Frank Hollander said, an attorney for the two Florida brothers. “The parties are amicably resolving their differences. All we wanted was the refund.”

Seeking help for cocaine addiction, Miami-Dade County, Fla., resident Pablo Mendoza claimed he attended treatment at Narconon’s West Ocean Front triplex in Newport Beach for three days in September 2008, according to the lawsuit, filed March 6 in Miami-Dade Circuit Court.

The lawsuit described the Newport Beach treatment center as “freezing,” “filthy” and “smoke-filled” with “dirty walls, dirty rugs and an unbearable odor.”

Pablo Mendoza immediately wanted to leave the treatment center, but Narconon representatives refused to let him use the phone to call home, according to court documents.

The lawsuit went on to claim Narconon representatives forced Pablo Mendoza to take unspecified pills that made him vomit and have diarrhea.

He also was forced to sit on a “ripped up and broken couch” for most of the three days he spent at the treatment center, according to the lawsuit.

Pablo Mendoza also claimed a male instructor at Narconon rubbed his crotch on his hand during a massage.

Narconon representatives forced him to clean pots and pans in the treatment center’s kitchen, according to legal documents. They also tried to get Pablo Mendoza to clean the bathroom, the lawsuit claimed.

“Pablo Mendoza refused because he realized they were discriminating against him on the basis of race as he was the only Hispanic student,” according to the lawsuit.

Pablo Mendoza’s brother, Adonis Mendoza, paid $29,000 to Narconon for his treatment, according to legal documents.

Narconon agreed to give Adonis Mendoza a full refund on Friday, Hollander said.

As part of the agreement, Narconon admitted to no wrongdoing, he said.

Narconon declined to comment on the lawsuit on Friday.

“We can neither confirm nor deny the presence of any person at our facility at any time; past or present,” Catherine Savage, a spokeswoman for Narconon said in a written statement.

Reporter BRIANNA BAILEY may be reached at (714) 966-4625 or at brianna.bailey@latimes.com.