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Death claim by family of man allegedly overdosed in substance abuse treatment program is dismissed: claim is one of malpractice even if employee was not a licensed professional

Gregg Dallaire allegedly died of an overdose of methadone administered by Treatment  Works, Inc.  Dallaire had become addicted to Vicodin after sustaining injuries in a motor vehicle accident and was attempting to treat the addiction through the Defendants when he died.  His wife was appointed Personal Representative of his Estate, and for whatever reason, she did not send out a Notice of Intent to Sue in time to leave 180 days before the medical malpractice statute of limitations ran.  Thus, to comply with her time limits on suit, she filed her Wrongful Death complaint without allowing the six month  "waiting period" to be exhausted.  She also alleged that since the overdose was administered by a non-licensed employee of  Treatment Works, she should not be subject to the procedural requirements of the malpractice statute (including a shorter limitations period). 

The Trial Court held that the case was not one of "ordinary negligence" and applied several "Engler Majority" holdings interpreting civil procedure to rule that Dallaire's suit must be dismissed.   The Court of Appeals upheld this decision.  It pointed out that whether or not the person who allegedly administered the overdose was a licensed professional, the case sounded in malpractice because the error occurred in the context of a professional relationship, and questions of medication dosage involve the exercise of professional judgment.
Thompson O’Neil, P.C.
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Traverse City, Michigan 49684
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