An Alabama methadone clinic owned by a company that does business in 18 states does not offer the therapy and other support it promises in its marketing, leaving its patients hopelessly dependent on the replacement medication, alleges a Circuit Court lawsuit filed last month.
Attorneys for patient Lisa Cheek Temple are seeking class status for patients who they say have been harmed by the actions of Colonial Management Group, a company headquartered in Orlando, Fla. Temple was a patient from November 2004 until last month at Montgomery Metro Treatment Center in Montgomery, one of several clinic sites that Colonial Management Group operates in Alabama.
“She is now as hooked on methadone as she was on painkillers,” says Temple’s attorney, J.P. Sawyer. “Her primary care physician became concerned about some health problems she was having, including venous problems in her lower extremities. She is now out of the clinic and taking methadone through her primary care doctor.”
Among the allegations cited in the lawsuit are that Colonial Management Group and the medical director of the Montgomery clinic, Gilberto Sanchez, MD, failed to advise Temple of long-term adverse effects of methadone use, neglected to offer her adequate supervision and counseling, and did not keep complete and adequate clinical records.
“Colonial Management Group, L.P. and its subsidiaries take great pride in providing the best care they can to their patients and fully complying with all applicable laws and regulations,” company director of operations Jamie Lovern said in a written response delivered to Addiction Professional via e-mail. “That having been said, we are still in the process of looking into these allegations and it would be premature to offer a comment at this time.”
Sawyer insists that the lawsuit does not represent an indictment of methadone treatment in general, but targets a particular provider that promises a variety of supports to end an addiction but that delivers only a daily dose of medication. “We’re not being critical of folks out there who are legitimately helping people and providing this treatment as an alternative,” he says.
The lawsuit states, “The Defendants have failed and/or refused to provide counseling and other treatment services necessary for Plaintiff to address her chemical dependence. Temple and the Class Members pay for these services as part of the ‘fee’ paid to the Defendants.”
Plaintiffs have requested a jury trial in the case and are seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.