Lawyers Complain of Missing Records in Lifespring Death Suit

Seattle Times/ June 21, 1980

Complaints about missing records were aired yesterday during a pretrial hearing in a law suit filed by a man who blames a self-awareness program for the death of his daughter.

Gail Renick, 27, a model and real-estate agent, died here in April, 1979, of an asthma attack after leaving the final session of a five-day, $300 course conducted by Lifespring Foundation, Inc. She was in a coma five days before death.

Bill Newgent, the father, contends that Ms. Renick was not adequately informed beforehand of the program's extremely intense psychological and emotional exercises designed to alter habits and thought processes. Newgent says that the Lifespring staff kept Ms. Renick's asthma medication and when she had an attack she was told her problem was self-caused. Lifespring is a national self-awareness program with headquarters in San Rafael, California.

Newgent's damage claim against Lifespring is scheduled for trial in September before King County Superior Court, Judge Robert W. Winsor.

Daniel C. Jacobson and Richard M. Stanislaw, lawyers for Newgent, said yesterday that they have not received documents which then are entitled to inspect for trial preparation, including a basic information sheet for Ms. Renick a confidential health questionnaire, a refund form and a card with medication information filled out by Lifespring staff.

Michael C. Hayden and Lawrence L. Longfelder, lawyers for Lifespring, said all documents will be turned over as soon as they can be found. Longfelder said the documents appear to be lost.

Shortly after the death of Ms. Renick, Jim Earl, Lifespring area director, said that nobody in his organization would tell a "trainee" to avoid a prescribed drug. Newgent said then that "There is no way I'm going to stop till I can get this mind-bending organization shut down."

A crew from 20/20, the BC television program, was filming yesterday after the hearing in King County Courthouse. Editor's Note: ABC NEWS 20/20 program will be shown sometime between July 15, to September 15th, 1980. Watch for this show re: Lifespring Seattle Court case.

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