Skip to main content

Families of men killed in crash win $8.5M in case against methadone clinic

  • Author:
  • Updated:

The families of two men will get an $8.5 million payout from the clinic and doctor who prescribed the methadone to the driver who caused their deaths.

In what KBJR says is a "precedent-setting case,"the families of Mitchell Lengren and Zachary Gamache reached an agreement with Pinnacle Recovery Services of Brainerd and Dr. John Stroemer last week.

It follows a civil lawsuit stemming from an October 2012 crash: The pair died after a car driven by Vanessa Brigan crossed the center line and struck their vehicle on Highway 210 in Carlton County, the Moose Lake Star Gazette reported.

It emerged that Brigan, who is serving six years in prison for vehicular homicide, was under the influence of methadone at the time, and it had been prescribed by Dr. Stroemer at the Brainerd clinic.

According to FOX 21, Pinnacle is liable for $5.7 million of the damages and Dr. Stroemer $2.8 million, after they both allowed a judgement to be entered against them in St. Louis County finding them negligent.

KBJR says that as part of the agreement, the families will only attempt to collect judgement money from insurers.

It's thought to be the first successful case in Minnesota where the claim is that members of the public were harmed due to improper treatment given to a patient, FOX 21 notes.

The Lingren family will get 75 percent of the settlement since Lingren left behind a wife and kids.

The Star Tribune reported last year the lawsuit contended that Dr. Stroemer's methadone clinic should have known Brigan was abusing the drug because of needle marks on her arm, and should have stopped her driving the 100 miles home to Cloquet prior to the fatal crash.

The doctor was reprimanded by the Minnesota Board of Medicine in January 2015 after finding he prescribed excessive amounts of controlled substances without assessing the risks to patients, the newspaper notes.

Methadone is one of the chemical treatments for heroin addiction, but is itself addictive and can be abused by addicts, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says.

Next Up

Willmar Police Department

Police: Suspect arrested in Willmar after firing gun at officer

The incident led to a manhunt that lasted into early Sunday morning.

Monti Ossenfort

Vikings lead off general manager interviews with Monti Ossenfort

Several candidates will interview for the job this week.

Payton Willis

Gophers' rally comes up short, lose to Iowa

The Gophers came back from a 23-point deficit but couldn't complete the comeback.


Firefighters respond to smoke-filled cabin to find man asleep inside

A wood stove was determined to be the cause of the smoke.

snow plow msp airport

MSP snowplow drivers reach contract agreement after threatening strike

Teamsters Local 320 reached an agreement with the Metropolitan Airports Commission Saturday.

Kellen Moore

What you should know about the Vikings' head coach candidates

Seven candidates were revealed on Saturday morning.

20211010_Vikings_Lions_REG05_1119 (2)

What is the next Minnesota Vikings GM inheriting?

A look at the strengths and weaknesses of the Vikings' roster and situation


Man dies after being 'punched in the head' during altercation in Duluth

A 46-year-old man is in custody and facing 1st-degree manslaughter charges.

Deion Sanders

Deion Sanders says Zimmer, Spielman hadn't spoken 'in months'

Sanders' comments revealed some of the Vikings' issues last season.

police tape, crime scene

Brooklyn Park man pleads guilty in 2020 fatal drive-by shooting

Devon Manley will be sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years.


Duluth methadone clinic getting shut down by state

The Lake Superior Treatment Center uses methadone to treat opiate addictions. A Human Services Department inspection last month found health and safety violations discovered in March had not been corrected. An official with the company that runs the for-profit clinic predicts its clients will die, overdose, or go to jail.

Accrediting agency gave Duluth methadone clinic positive marks

Three months before the Minnesota Department of Human Services recommended a methadone clinic in Duluth be shut down, a nonprofit accrediting agency said the Lake Superior Treatment Center "met or exceeded standards in many areas," the Duluth News Tribune. However, state investigators inspected the clinic in early August and found 56 violations of standards.

Family, friends honor Minnesotans killed in Kansas crash

Five members of the Kerber family from Jordan were killed on April 1 when their motor home veered off a Kansas road. The family requested privacy at the weekend service, which was held in Shakopee.

Felony charges filed against teen in Mayo Clinic pipe bomb case

A 17-year-old St. Charles boy is charged with possession of an incendiary/explosive device and discharge of a firearm or dangerous weapon endangering public safety, Winona Daily News reports. The teen is accused of making a pipe bomb that was discovered in his mother's trunk last week while he was a patient at the hospital in Rochester. Authorities say the 3-foot-long device weighed about 50 pounds with gunpowder and fireworks.

Two Mayo Clinic workers killed in Florida helicopter crash

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating a helicopter crash that killed two Mayo Clinic employees in Florida. The Star Tribune reports the two Jacksonville hospital employees were flying to the University of Florida Monday to retrieve organs. A spokeswoman with the FAA says neither the employees nor the pilot survived after crashing northeast of Palatka, Florida.