Family calls for stricter regulations on methadone clinics after son is killed in 2012 crash

By KBJR News 1

August 29, 2014 Updated Sep 1, 2014 at 9:48 AM CST

Cloquet, MN (NNCNOW.com) -- After learning their case against a methadone clinic will move to trial, the Lingren family is speaking out to get what they feel is justice for their son and his family.

In October of 2012, 29–year old–Mitchell Lingren was killed after being hit by a car driven by Venessa Brigen, who was on methadone at the time of the accident.

"Mitch, Jorden, and I did a lot together and Jorden and I still do a lot together but we miss their dad," said David Lingren, Mitch's father.

Mitchell was working for the Carlton County Highway department when he was killed. leaving behind his wife and two kids.

Mitch's co–worker, 25–year–old Zachary Gamache also died in the accident.

"Mitch loved his job, he loved the people he worked with he was really good at what he did, he enjoyed it," said David.

The Lingren family filed a lawsuit against Pinnacle Recovery services claiming the methadone treatment center was negligent in giving methadone to Brigan and letting her drive.

"They need to be accountable to the public for, um, dispensing these narcotics to addicts. They have to do it in a way that is safe for the public," said David.

According the criminal complaint, fresh needle tracks were found on Brigan's arms when she was examined after the crash; and syringes, and nearly empty methadone bottles, were found in the ditch by Brigan's crashed vehicle.

Doctors say methadone is the most highly regulated drug in the United States and should be taken orally not injected.

However there are looser regulations on how long patients need to be observed after taking the narcotic.

"There are also state rules about the period of time in which the patient has to be observed to see what the effect of that medication is. Once we know what the effect of that medication is then there aren't the same kind of observation regulations," said Dr. Gavin Bart, Director of Addiction Medicine at Hennepin County Medical Center.

There have only been two other wrongful Death Lawsuits filed against methadone clinics in Minnesota, and the Lingren's lawyer said their request is simple.

"All we want methadone clinics to do is, what the public no doubt expects of them, which is to make sure they are not loading people up with methadone, a very dangerous drug and letting them go from the clinic directly to the car, and get behind the wheel and drive on our roadways," said Phil Sieff.

"It doesn't go away, it will never go away, we miss Mitch," said David.

The Lingren's case is expected to be tried before a jury in July 2015 in Duluth.
A date has not yet been set yet for the Gamache family's trial.

Posted to the web by Kati Anderson.
kanderson@kbjr.com

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