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.
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.