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West Columbia Drug Clinic at Fault in Fatal Crash

Columbia Metro Treatment Center in West Columbia, and its chain owner, Colonial Management Group will pay $10.5 million to settle two wrongful death lawsuits after one of its patients, under the influence of drugs, killed an elderly couple and their grandson in a 2015 auto accident.

The order says that this lawsuit settlement almost exhausts the Orlando-based company’s available insurance coverage. Because this was a confidential settlement, the case won’t go to trial, and the public will never hear details of the allegations or the company’s responses.

The driver, 62-year-old Robert Moore Jr. had been a patient of the clinic, receiving treatment for addiction to opiates. According to the lawsuits and the company’s internet site, “Drug addicts go to the Columbia Metro Treatment Center to get regular doses of methadone, which reduces their craving for opioids, including OxyContin.” (The State Newspaper)

The lawsuit alleged that Columbia Metro Treatment Center irresponsibly prescribed Methadone to Moore, who mixed it with other drugs. Moore left the clinic on November 20, 2015 heading west on U.S. 375. He veered into eastbound traffic on U.S. 378, striking two vehicles, and then slammed into an SUV head-on. The SUV burst into flames.

Harry Gunnells, 73, his wife Barbara, and their grandson, Cooper Gunnells, were in the SUV, and were killed in the accident. “Their estates sued the drug-treatment center and its owner.”

Harry and Barbara were killed instantly, but Cooper, “who suffered from spina bifida, was pinned in the wreckage and was “burned by the flames and suffocated by the smoke,” according to one of the lawsuits.”

Moore survived the crash, but died soon thereafter.

A little over five years prior, Moore had become addicted to pain-killing drugs after a back injury. In that five years, the clinic had never tried to detox Mr. Moore, or wean him from the “addictive substances for which he initially sought treatment, the lawsuits alleged.”

A week before the fatal crash, Columbia Metro had drug-tested Moore, who tested positive for methadone, amphetamines, Xanax and OxyContin. Moore was under the influence of methadone, Xanax, and Adderall on the day of the crash, an autopsy showed. Xanax and Methadone have a side effect of sleepiness. Adderall can cause seizures.

These four deaths could have been prevented by Columbia Metro cutting off Moore’s access to Methadone. In the complaint, Cooper’s attorney said, “The fatal injury and conscious pain and suffering … was the direct, proximate, result of Columbia Metro’s negligent, grossly negligent and reckless conduct.”

Contact the Law Offices of David L. Hood for a Free Wrongful Death Consultation

If someone you care about has died due to someone else’s negligence, please schedule your free consultation by calling the Law Offices of David L. Hood at (843) 491-6025 or filling out our brief online contact form.

We know how difficult it can be to deal with the immediate and long-term effects of a wrongful death. At the Law Offices of David L. Hood, we work hard to make things simple for you. After a free case evaluation, if we believe we can help you and your family, Wrongful Death Attorney David L. Hood, co-counsel, and our team of experts will vigorously pursue your case to get you the best result we can achieve. Let us put our years of experience to work for you!

*Clients are not liable for any expenses, unless there is a recovery in their case; however, if there is a recovery in their case, clients will be liable for expenses. Attorney’s fees are based on a percentage of the recovery, which will be computed before deducting expenses.

 

Other online references used for this article:

South Carolina Lawyers Weekly, https://sclawyersweekly.com/news/2018/12/10/methadone-clinic-settles-fatal-crash-suit-for-10-5m/

 

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