Robins Kaplan LLPĀ® Secures $8.55 Million Settlement in Precedent-Setting Case Against Minnesota Methadone Clinic

January 29, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS—January 29, 2016—Attorneys Philip Sieff and Patrick Stoneking of National law firm Robins Kaplan LLP® obtained a groundbreaking settlement in St. Louis County District Court totaling more than $8.5 million on behalf of the families of two young men killed in a traffic collision caused by a driver under the influence of methadone.

The settlement authorizes entry of judgments against methadone clinic, Pinnacle Recovery Services of Brainerd, and the clinic’s CEO and prescribing doctor, Dr. John Stroemer, of $8.55 million in favor of the families of Zachary Gamache and Mitchell Lingren. The settlement was made via a Miller-Shugart Agreement filed with the court in which both Pinnacle Recovery Services and Dr. John Stroemer stipulated their negligence in the case.  

The settlement stems from an October 2012 car accident, in which Pinnacle Recovery Services’ and Dr. John Stroemer’s patient, who was under the influence of methadone, crossed the centerline on her way home from the clinic and collided with Zachary Gamache, 25, and Mitchell Lingren’s, 29, vehicle, sending them careening into oncoming traffic. Both Gamache and Lingren were killed in the crash.

The case involved a “first-of-its-kind” ruling against a methadone clinic in Minnesota, when, in 2014, St. Louis County District Court Judge Sally Tarnowski denied Pinnacle Recovery Services’ motion to dismiss the case, finding that the clinic has a duty to protect the public from harm caused by the clinic’s negligent provision of methadone. Later in the case, Judge Tarnowski granted the plaintiffs’ motion to amend to allege punitive damages against Pinnacle Recovery Services and Dr. John Stroemer.

“These families have fought for three-and-a-half years to hold the clinic and doctor accountable,” explained Philip Sieff, partner at Robins Kaplan LLP and attorney for the Lingren and Gamache families. “Methadone clinics need to be held responsible for their actions, especially when innocent members of the public are killed due to the treatment they provide. We were pleased to see the defendants publicly acknowledge their negligence in this matter.”

Under the Miller-Shugart agreement, the Lingren and Gamache families both agreed to collect judgments only from the liability insurers for Pinnacle Recovery Services and Dr. John Stroemer. Both insurers have denied coverage, and additional suits have been filed in district court.

This settlement came two weeks ahead of a jury trial that was set to begin this week in Duluth, Minnesota.

The case is David Lingren, Angela Lingren, and James Gamache, trustees, vs. John Stroemer, et al., District Court Case No.: 09-CV-13-215.

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