Lawsuit: 17-Year-Old Girl Dies From Sepsis After Facility for Troubled Teens Allegedly Ignores Symptoms

A 17-year-old girl died from a curable disease at a “therapeutic boarding school” for troubled teens in Utah last December after management at the facility refused to take her to a hospital.

The Utah Medical Examiner said that Taylor Goodridge, 17, died of peritonitis on December 20, 2022, at Diamond Ranch Academy, KTVX reported.

The disease is caused by an infection from a hole in the bowel or a burst appendix, according to Johns Hopkins, and can be treated with antibiotics, although advanced cases may require surgery.

The university said that medical treatment must begin immediately, but in Goodridge’s case, the girl “vomited several times for over a week before she died. (Diamond Ranch) staff was begging (Diamond Ranch) management to take her to the hospital for days before she died,” according to Allen W. Mortensen, the family’s attorney.

According to the autopsy, the untreated infection in Goodridge’s body led to sepsis, which spread to “all of her vital organs causing complete organ failure.”

Mortensen said that Goodridge showed symptoms as early as December 9 — back pain, difficulty breathing, and troubled sleep. She never saw a doctor.

Goodridge’s parents, Dean Goodridge and AmberLynn Wigtion, have filed suit against Diamond Ranch, and the facility was put on probation by the Utah Department of Health and Human Services pending an investigation. The parents issued a statement saying they were “devastated” to learn their daughter’s death could have been prevented “had Diamond Ranch Academy cared.”

“We are also dumbfounded that the State of Utah’s Department of Health and Human Services has not held Diamond Ranch Academy accountable for Taylor’s death, settling with Diamond Ranch Academy without any input from our family,” the statement said. “Diamond Ranch Academy is now able to continue accepting unknowing students with naive parents, so that the owners of Diamond Ranch Academy can continue to earn profits from the misfortunes of its students and their parents. We intend to continue to pursue all avenues to hold Diamond Ranch Academy accountable for her death to make sure this does not happen to other innocent teens and their families.”

Law & Crime reported that Utah records show Diamond Ranch currently has a conditional license, which means they are “at risk of losing their license because compliance with licensing rules has not been maintained.”

“The provider was out of compliance with this rule by failing to provide and seek necessary medical care for an ill client who died several weeks after initial onset of symptoms,” said one finding. “During on and off site inspections, investigators conducted multiple interviews and reviewed program documentation. This information substantiated that the provider was aware a client was ill and did not take them to the emergency room or to receive further medical care and evaluation.”

The federal lawsuit accuses the facility of false imprisonment, premises liability, innkeeper liability, child abuse, negligence/knowing and reckless indifference, and breach of fiduciary duty.

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[Featured image: Taylor Goodridge/handout]