Methadone Clinic Doctor Found Liable in Addict’s Car Wreck

A Minnesota doctor and his methadone clinic have admitted responsibility in an $8.5 million settlement over dispensing methadone to a patient with known methadone abuse signs. St. Paul criminal defense attorney Max Keller says that this highlights the challenges many addicts face in recovering from addiction problems.

The lawsuit stems from the case of Vanessa Brigan, a patient at the Pinnacle Methadone Clinic in Brainerd. After being dispensed methadone on the morning of October 1, 2012, Brigan injected the medication, which is used as a treatment for heroine addiction but can also be addictive. Brigan then drove her vehicle while under the influence of the drug. She is currently serving a six year sentence for causing an accident that morning that took the life of two people.

The victims’s families expressed a feeling of justice at receiving the ruling in their favor. Payment stemming from the ruling is being disputed by the clinic and doctor’s insurance underwriters, but even without the settlement money, the families hope that the ruling will help to highlight the dangers of lax prescription drug control. Increasing numbers of prescription pill abusers in the state continue to show weaknesses in the regulation of prescription drugs.

This case marks the first time that a doctor has admitted negligence in a case like this. Dr. John Stroemer’s Pinnacle Methadone Clinic dispensed the drug to their patient despite visible warning signs of addiction. These included needle marks on her arms and other key signs of abuse. Methadone clinics, while centers of treatment for a number of addictions, can also be misused by substance abusers. Weak supervision and dispensing practices can make them easy targets for heroine and opioid abusers.

St. Paul criminal defense attorney Max Keller says that this follows the patterns he sees in his daily experience defending clients accused of drug crimes. “There are many warning signs of addiction that go unnoticed. More often than not, defendants need treatment instead of jail time. We fight for their future so that they can get their lives back.”

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Stay calm and compose after getting accused of a crime but not charged in Minneapolis, MN. Do not discuss the facts of your case with anyone, including your relatives and family members. Hire a criminal defense attorney with a demonstrated record of winning cases like yours. Your attorney will discuss your rights, guide you on how to cooperate with law enforcement within the legal boundaries, and build a solid defense strategy to fight the charges you could face in the future.
Expungement and sealing of records in Minnesota affect how your criminal history appears to government agencies and the public. The main difference between the two legal actions is that expungement permanently removes past arrests, criminal charges, or convictions from private and public databases, while sealing hides the criminal record from the public. Courts, government entities, and law enforcement agencies can access sealed criminal records.
Minnesota recently passed a public safety bill that brings sweeping changes to the state’s juvenile justice system. While minors sometimes run afoul of the law, the juvenile justice system seeks to account for the differences between children and adults. Therefore, while the penalties for adults convicted of crimes focus on punishment, those for juveniles are aimed at diversion and restorative practices.