DUI Fatality Victim's Family Sues Methadone Clinic

The family contends the clinic showed negligence in its treatment of Ashley Albers.

The family of a Bel Air woman who died at the hands of an impaired driver filed suit this week against a Belcamp methadone clinic they contend contributed to the crash.

Carolyn Dicocco, 64, was killed in a car crash in the area of Fountain Green Swim Club on July 21, 2011. She was the sole passenger in the car her husband Albert Dicocco was driving.

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The fatal crash was caused when Ashley Nicole Albers crossed the center line in her Chrysler 300M and hit Albert Dicocco's 2010 Lexus, according to Maryland State Police and the Harford County state's attorney's office.

Following the accident, Albers' blood was tested. The results showed she had Alprazolam, a form of Xanax, methadone and amphetamine in her system at the time, according to a release from the state's attorney's office.

Methadone is often used to treat addiction.

Albers, 28, who has addresses Bel Air and Edgewood, is currently serving five  years in jail after pleading guilty to one count of vehicular manslaughter in connection with the accident.

On Wednesday, the Dicocco family filed suit against Medication Assisted Treatment Technologies Clinic, or MATT, of Belcamp—the clinic that was treating Albers—for $20 million in damages, according to a release.

The lawsuit, filed by the law firm of Parker, Pallett and Slezak, contends the clinic either failed to test Albers, as required by law, or ignored test results.

"Since the interaction of Xanax and methadone are well-known and well-publicized in the medical treatment community, testing of methadone patients to insure that they are not already taking Xanax and other drugs is required by law and by the clinic's own set procedures—this is the clinic's duty," Karmen Slezak, a lawyer on the case, said in a prepared statement issued to the media.

"The clinic failed to uphold its duty, and the foreseeable result occurred: Albers drove away and within just a few minutes the combination of drugs in her system, a combination that was known or should have been known by the clinic, impaired her driving ability, ultimately resulting in a conviction for manslaughter by automobile," Slezak's statement concluded.

The family also hopes to change state laws surrounding methodone clinics.

They have plans to meet with Harford County legislators in an effort change the law to require private clinics offer transportation to their patients following treatment, the release states.

"It's what our mother would have wanted," Robert DiCocco, Carolyn's son, said in the release. "She devoted her life to helping people, beginning with her immediate family and stretching out to embrace the entire community, and this kind of added protection is exactly what we'd like her legacy to be."

MATT clinic had closed for the day and was unavailable for comment as of post time.

SHofmann October 06, 2012 at 12:30 AM
I could not think of a more appropriate legacy for Ms.Carolyn. she was an awesome lady that touched many lives including mine. She is greatly missed and would be very proud of her family for this.
Kraken Attack October 06, 2012 at 02:25 AM
Alprazolam alone is quite dangerous to be driving on, it's usually on reserved for moments of extreme anxiety and or depression. I took it for a brief period and remember almost instantaniously falling asleep or feeling sleepy. I can't imagine ever driving on it.
Mary Klopcic October 06, 2012 at 12:13 PM
Finally someone holding the right person accountable. Obviously Ms. Albers is ultimately responsible for this accident but a clinic that hands out these medications without appropriate follow-up is unconscionable. The mental health supports in this county, state and nation are ridiculously ineffective to the point of gross neglect. Kudos to this family for trying to change things one small step at a time!
Penelope Patch October 07, 2012 at 07:13 AM
Mary, I agree with you. To take it a step further, the Mental Health agency for this county is woefully inadequate. They are the ones responsible for doing the planning that should result in having the necessary services available to meet the needs of the citizens of Harford County. People in need of care do not always receive what they need when they need it. A significant amount of money comes into the county for mental health services and how all of it is used is concerning.
Alex November 06, 2012 at 02:18 AM
A friend of mine actually goes to the MATT program. And yes, they do urine tests there. But that's not all! If you are found using benzodiazapines they will kick you out of the program. It is a life threatening combination.
Mar November 12, 2012 at 05:17 PM
My Sympathy goes out to the family of this woman frankly i have to say i would not be as mad at the clinic as i would at the courts 5 years are you kidding me? This woman no matter what she was on was responsible for the loss of a woman's life and this is all she gets? I know having been on methadone that there are many who are taking benzos illegally to "boost" the methadone. Methadone taken Alone and as directed for those in treatment do not cause issues. that said i Applaud the transportation offering i think that it should be worded Transportation to and from though. I also wonder why just for Privately owned treatment clinics? why not all clinics? Frankly though i do not see how the clinic can be blamed on this to be honest i mean if that woman went in and dosed and took the benzo either right before or right after The benzo is what done it and well state laws require urine samples BUT they do not require them on every visit and so that leaves the clinic not at fault. Not to mention the methadone's full effects does not hit the patient for at least 2 hours to 3 hours So again this was likely caused by benzo's
John December 13, 2012 at 01:13 AM
I know this to be FALSE. The police report shows that ALBERS was taking Benzo since March of 2011. She was warned over 10 times to stop and FAILED every drug test ever given to her, BUT they still gave her the methadone dose EVERY TIME!!!! Once this goes to court you will be AMAZED at what is going to come out!!!
eric May 18, 2013 at 04:50 PM
Methadone is the devil........


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