$8.5M Settlement Reached in case against Minnesota Methadone Clinic

The families of two men killed in Carlton County by a driver under the influence of Methadone will split $8.5 million as part of a settlement with the doctor and clinic who prescribed the drug.  

According to Philip Sieff, the attorney representing the families, an agreement was reached last week between the families of Zachary Gamache and Mitch Lingren and Pinnacle Recovery Services, a methadone clinic in Brainerd, and Dr. John Stroemer, who prescribed the drug. 

Gamache and Lingren were killed in October of 2012 on Highway 210 when another car crossed the center line and hit their rear tire, breaking their axle and sending them into oncoming traffic. 

29-year-old Vanessa Brigan was driving back from a methadone clinic in Brainerd before the crash and was under the influence of the drug when she struck the truck Gamache and Lingren were driving. 

Brigan pleaded guilty to two counts of criminal vehicular homicide and will spend 6 years behind bars. 

Under the settlement, Dr. Stroemer and Pinnacle Recovery Services both allowed judgment to be entered against them in St. Louis County, finding them negligent. 

As part of the agreement, the families can only collect judgment against West Bend Mutual Company and Minnesota Joint Underwriters Association, the insurance companies for the doctor and Pinnacle Recovery. 

The two families are seeking damages in the amount of $5.7 million against the treatment center, and $2.8 million against the doctor.  

The Lingren family will be awarded 75 percent of the settlement since Lingren left behind a wife and kids.  The Gamache family will receive 25 percent. 

According to Sieff, this is the first case in Minnesota where the claim is that members of the public were harmed or killed due to improper treatment provided to a patient. 

Sieff calls it a “groundbreaking” settlement. 

“It vindicates the families and sends a very strong message to the for-profit methadone clinics that protection of the public needs to be a concern,” said Sieff, “These families are prepared to see justice done, regardless of how long it takes.  What’s really important to the families is the fact that they are missing two incredible people who died for no good reason.” 

Categories: Crime-imported, News-imported, Police-imported