The father of a teen who died at a Utah boarding school has filed a lawsuit alleging that the institution ignored his daughter’s complaints of “severe pain” leading up to her death.
Taylor Goodridge, 17, died Dec. 20 after collapsing at Diamond Ranch Academy in Hurricane, Utah from what her family said was sepsis from an untreated illness.
In late December, Taylor’s father, Dean Goodridge, filed suit against the facility, which has since been placed on probation by the Utah Department of Health and Human Services.
Dean claims staffers told the 17-year-old to “suck it up” and claimed she hurt her like she had to take aspirin and drink water for a stomach ache that at one point caused her to collapse in her own vomit and bloat her stomach .
Taylor Goodridge, 17, died Dec. 20 at Diamond Ranch Academy
The facility is described as a “therapeutic boarding school” according to its website
According to the website, Diamond Ranch Academy is a “therapeutic boarding school” that works with teens who have a variety of issues ranging from anger management problems to major depressive disorder.
A cause of death for the teen has yet to be officially determined and shared.
Taylor reportedly fell ill on December 20 and collapsed in the facility. When EMS officials arrived, Taylor was pronounced dead.
The girl’s father claims during the lawsuit that she had been complaining to staff members about severe abdominal pain for weeks, dating back to November.
In response, the father says, the school and its staff members claimed she faked the illness, collapsing at one point before she died.
The lawsuit, brought by Alan Mortensen representing Dean, argues that the school violated the Utah Health Care Malpractice Act by not addressing or taking seriously the girl’s complaints.
According to a lawsuit filed by her father, Taylor had been complaining of severe abdominal pain for weeks
The facility works with teens who have a variety of issues ranging from anger management issues to major depressive disorders, according to the website
When Taylor entered the facility, she was in “very good health,” according to her father.
“Here’s to this young teen being sent to Utah from Washington State to try and help her get her life back together,” Mortensen said.
And before they know it, she’s passed away from what we believe will ultimately turn out to be sepsis. And without any explanation,’ the lawyer said.
In addition to Taylor complaining about the pain, the teenage girl also begged staff for help in the weeks leading up to her death, her father’s suit says.
Even after Taylor collapsed in her own vomit and had an abdomen that was “extremely distended so that it was visible to others,” staff continued to ignore her.
At one point, Taylor reportedly became so ill that she collapsed in her own vomit
Taylor’s father claims her abdomen was noticeably distended before her death
Lawyers believe the teen died of sepsis and not a heart attack, as the school claims
Dean says through his lawyer that he believes the treatment his daughter received may reflect similar experiences of other students who are “often ignored or told they are faking illness.”
Mortensen also says school officials told the teen’s family that she was taken to hospital after suffering a heart attack and later died from the incident. Her family believes she died of sepsis from an untreated abdominal problem.
The suit alleges that the father felt comfortable sending his daughter to the school after reading the school’s commitments.
“We recognize how difficult a decision was to intervene on your child’s behalf,” a Diamond Ranch Academy parent handbook reads, the lawsuit said.
We also recognize how difficult it is to put the care of your child in someone else’s hands. Rest easy knowing that we take our responsibility very seriously,” the manual continues.
The academy also promises parents that it will “treat every student as if it were our own daughter or son.”
It is unclear what exactly Taylor is being treated for.
Dean Goodridge next to Taylor (bottom right) and two of Taylor’s siblings
A cause of death for the teen (left) has yet to be determined
In a Christmas Eve Facebook post, Dean shared the news of Taylor’s death with his friends and said the family intends to get to the bottom of the situation.
“This is the hardest thing I’ll ever write,” Dean wrote.
“We don’t know what happened, we’ll find out what happened,” the grieving father said.
Dean, who lives in Washington state, said the young girl “meant the world to her family,” including her siblings who loved her dearly.
Taylor’s father shared the news of his daughter’s death on Facebook the day before Christmas
In a statement, Diamant Ranch Academy said:
“We are fully and transparently cooperating with the State of Utah in investigating this tragedy.
“Student safety is our number one priority and we are constantly striving to provide the best possible care for our students and families.
It is Diamond Ranch Academy policy not to comment publicly on pending litigation.”
This is the lawsuit filed by Dean Goodridge
Dean claims that weeks before her death, the school ignored his daughter’s problems
The facility, which shares glowing testimonials on its website, costs according to one exhaust pipe.
On Facebook, there is an entire Facebook group dedicated to those who went to Diamond Ranch Academy.
The groupcalled ‘I Survived Diamond Ranch Academy’ has more than 1,000 members and was founded in 2011.
Opened in 1999, Diamond Ranch Academy promises to watch over and care for patients “with all the care of a loving parent.”
“If you’re looking for a program for your teen that really works—that will really make a long-term difference—then I invite you to seriously consider Diamond Ranch Academy,” the academy’s website reads.
“If it’s important to you to find a program that will monitor, care for and help your youth with all the concerns of a loving parent, then look no further,” the webpage continues.
Taylor’s family is seeking general and special damages, as well as punitive damages against the facility
Taylor’s family seeks a jury trial.
The lawsuit seeks general and special damages to be determined by the jury, as well as attorney fees covered by the academy.
The family is also asking that the Diamond Ranch Academy pay damages “an amount sufficient to punish DRA and deter DRA and others in similar situations from engaging in such conduct in the future.”
No trial date has been set at this time.