Lorna McMurrey’s family sues Truelive – NBC Boston
The family of a woman who died last year at a licensed marijuana facility in Massachusetts, the country’s first reported occupational asthma death at a cannabis production facility, has filed a lawsuit alleging negligence, recklessness and misconduct against the facility and the people who worked on its HVAC system.
Lorna McMurrey’s family filed the wrongful death suit in Hampden County Superior Court, according to her lawyers. They said in a news release Tuesday that the 27-year-old rolled marijuana products in a room at Truelive’s Holyoke facility where “cannabis dust and mold from the cannabis covered workers from head to toe,” and that operators failed to minimize risks to employees from the airborne dust and mold. McMurrey died in January 2022.
McMurrey collapsed inside Trulieve’s production building after having trouble breathing. Her mother, Laura Bruneau has told the NBC10 Boston Investigators she received a text from her daughter just after 12:30 p.m. on Jan. 4 that said she was having trouble breathing and walking at the same time. She told her daughter she was on her way to Trulieve, but when she arrived, first responders were already treating McMurrey and put her in an ambulance.
According to reports obtained by the NBC10 Boston Investigators, emergency crews responded to a report that a person was in cardiac arrest. Bruneau says McMurrey was on life support at Baystate Medical Center for four days. Her death certificate shows she died after going into cardiac and respiratory arrest from a presumed severe asthma attack.
A tragic death inside a state-licensed marijuana facility is being called the first of its kind in the industry.
Federal health and safety officials said last week without identifying McMurrey or the or the Massachusetts facility that the worker’s death “illustrates missed opportunities for prevention, including workplace exposures, medical surveillance, and treatment according to the current asthma guidelines.” Their federal report states that allergic diseases such as asthma are a growing concern in the U.S. cannabis industry, which has grown rapidly in recent years thanks to a wave of state-level legalizations.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published the report, which it said represented findings of a federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspection that included a worksite exposure assessment, coworker and next-of-kin interviews, medical record reviews, and collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
The McMurrey family’s lawsuit alleges that McMurrey had another asthma attack at work that required hospitalization about two months before her the one that led to her death, and that “Truelive was aware of this incident, but took no steps to protect Lorna following her collapse while inside the Facility.”
NBC10 Boston has reached out to Truelive for comment on the lawsuit. Truelive announced this summer it was ceasing operations in Massachusetts.
The company has previously told NBC10 Boston that PPE was available onsite to all employees, and that air quality tested throughout the facility during the OSHA inspection tested at well below acceptable ranges.
Trulieve announced the settlement a few days before Christmas, saying that the agreement will “result in additional health and safety protections for Trulieve workers at its cannabis manufacturing facilities,” according to a news release from the corporation.