Mother of deceased cannabis worker sues Trulieve, alleging wrongful death

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The mother of a Trulieve Cannabis Corp. cultivation employee who died in January 2022 after collapsing at work filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company, according to court records.

Lorna McMurrey, 27, died Jan. 7, 2022, after experiencing breathing problems while working at the Florida-based multistate operator’s cultivation operation in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

A report published Nov. 17 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that McMurrey died from “occupational asthma.”

In a complaint filed Monday in Hampden County Superior Court in Massachusetts, McMurrey’s mother, Laura Bruneau, claimed that her daughter’s “tragic and preventable death” was the result of negligence on the part of Trulieve and its contractors “with respect to the design and installation of the HVAC system.”

The suit, which seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages, alleges that the HVAC system “failed to properly ventilate the facility, and often leaked, causing mold to grow on the cannabis product.”

The complaint names Trulieve as well as its Massachusetts affiliates, which had directly employed McMurrey since May 2021.

The suit claims Trulieve “knowingly and negligently exposed” McMurrey and her co-workers “to a hazardous work environment” that included “airborne cannabis dust/mold.”

The complaint also names

  • Todd Grover, whom the suit claims was employed by Trulieve as an “Environmental Health and Safety Manager.”
  • Burnette Construction and Development of Monticello, Florida, identified as Trulieve’s general contractor for the 126,000-square-foot Holyoke facility where McMurrey died.
  • T.J. Conway Co. of Massachusetts, which the suit claims installed the HVAC system at the Holyoke site.
  • M&E Mechanical Contractors, a Massachusetts company, which the suit claims installed the dust ventilation system under Burnette Construction’s supervision.

Trulieve did not respond to multiple MJBizDaily requests for comment.

Burnette Construction and Development and T. J. Conway did not immediately respond to MJBizDaily messages seeking comment.

A representative of M&E Mechanical Contractions said the company was unaware of the suit and could not comment.

Grover could not be reached.

McMurrey’s death is believed to be the first example of a U.S. cannabis worker dying on the job.

In a statement released to the media on Tuesday, Bruneau said Trulieve “needs to be held accountable.”

“It was their job to protect Lorna,” Bruneau added.