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Family awarded $10 million for wrongful death at detox center

An Orange County jury has awarded more than $10 million to a Missouri couple who alleged a Costa Mesa alcohol detox center was responsible for the death of their son, who was there to treat his alcoholism and bulimia, according to the family's lawyers.

The wrongful death lawsuit accused First House LLC of accepting 20-year-old Brandon Jacques as a client even though the facility wasn't licensed or capable of treating people eating disorders.

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Jacques died on April 2, 2011 in First House's care because of an electrolyte imbalance brought on by his bingeing and purging, according to the allegations. Jacques had only just arrived at First House before his death, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in 2012.

The lawsuit claimed Morningside Recovery, a sober-living facility in Newport Beach, transferred Jacques there without telling his parents. Despite Morningside advertising itself as a facility that could treat addiction and eating disorders, staff there told Jacques' parents on April 1, 2011, that he was in need of "higher care," the lawsuit states.

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Morningside staff allegedly told Jacques' parents they would decide what to do with him in a week's time, when, in reality, he'd already been transferred to First House.

According to lawyers for the Jacques family, a jury on Tuesday determined First House is 80% responsible for the death.

The jury ruled Morningside was 20% responsible, but the organization settled with the family before trial, which will reduce the total payout from the judgment by about $2 million, according to court documents.

Attorneys for First House could not be reached late Friday.

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