‘Lorna was my life’: Lawsuit filed by family of MA worker who died of ‘exposure to cannabis dust’

HOLYOKE, Mass. — The family of western Massachusetts woman whose fatal asthma attack has been linked to conditions at its marijuana production facility has filed a lawsuit against a local cannabis company, and others.

Lorna McMurrey’s death was detailed in a federal report published earlier this month, according to the Associated Press. McMurry was 27 years old when she died in January 2022.

“Trulieve needs to be held accountable. It was their job to protect Lorna,” said McMurrey’s mother Laura Bruneau. “Lorna was my life. This company took my whole life away from me. You can’t have the big cannabis industry come into Massachusetts and not protect Lorna and other workers.”

In the wrongful death lawsuit, attorneys claim McMurrey’s death was “...caused by exposure to cannabis dust and mold” while working in Trulieve’s production facility in Holyoke.

“At the time of her death, Lorna was employed by Life Essence, Inc., and worked in the “pre-roll” production room as a technician,” according to a statement from her attorneys. “Part of Lorna’s job was to pick up the cannabis product and feed it into the grinding machines which took place in a small production room with four other grinding machines in operation. While in the production room, the cannabis dust and mold from the cannabis covered workers from head to toe.”

Her attorneys say McMurrey first suffered a asthma attack while working for the company in November of 2021, two months before a second attack that proved deadly.

“Trulieve was aware of this incident, but took no steps to protect Lorna following her first collapse while inside the facility.” according to a statement from her attorneys.

The lawsuit alleges negligence, gross negligence, recklessness and willful and wanton misconduct against Trulieve, and others, including the contractors hired to design and install the HVAC system at the Holyoke Facility.

McMurrey was a graduate of Westfield High School, and lived in West Springfield most of her life.

“The Defendants in this burgeoning industry failed to develop and implement appropriate safety polices across its facilities throughout the United States, including its Holyoke facility,” said attorney Jeremy M. Carroll. “Had they done so, Lorna McMurrey would be alive today. Lorna’s family now seeks accountability from Trulieve and its contractors for their clear disregard for worker afety, in hopes of preventing such needless loss for other families.”

The federal report into McMurrey’s death said the case “illustrates missed opportunities for prevention, including workplace exposures, medical surveillance, and treatment according to the current asthma guidelines,” according to the Associated Press.

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.

Material from the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Download the FREE Boston 25 News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Boston 25 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch Boston 25 News NOW