Lawsuit filed against Indiana recovery center after 3 deaths, 200 visits by local fire and law enforcement

By Stephanie Srakocic | Fact-checked by Davi Sherman
Published August 2, 2023

Key Takeaways

  • Three patients of a Praxis Landmark Recovery center in Indiana died between July 3 and 9, 2023.

  • The state of Indiana has revoked the center’s license, and a lawsuit has been filed on behalf of nine former patients.

  • Praxis Landmark Recovery provides care to patients whose treatment is paid for by Medicaid.

Praxis Landmark Recovery opened on August 15, 2022, in Mishawaka, IN, to provide addiction recovery services to the South Bend area. Less than a year later, in July 2023, the state of Indiana revoked the center’s license along with those of two sister facilities in nearby Bluffton and Carmel, IN.[][]

In its 11 months of operation, the Mishawaka location has already run up a tally of troubling incidents and allegations, leading to 200 visits from the local fire and police departments in 2023. A spokesperson for the St. Joseph County Police Department told the press that incidents at the center requiring police presence this year had included a stabbing, a sexual assault, two rapes, and nine overdoses.[] []

Between July 3 and 9, 2023, three deaths were at the center, and another patient had to be revived with multiple doses of Narcan. In the wake of so many incidents in such a short period, Landmark announced that it would not be taking in any patients until it reevaluated its staff and the situation at the Mishawaka facility. The center’s Director of Nursing was also let go. Additionally, the St. Joseph County Police Department asked the state to investigate the facility and revoke its license, saying that the center is a drain on first-responder resources.[][] 

On July 25, 2023, a lawsuit on behalf of nine former patients of Praxis Landmark Recovery was filed in the St. Joseph County Superior Court. The lawsuit alleges that the problems at Praxis Landmark include neglect, medical malpractice, and endangerment.[]

The eight-page lawsuit claims that the center did not provide adequate care or treatment to its patients. Reportedly, the facility was continuously understaffed, and present staff members did not have the appropriate training to care for people in recovery. Patients did not have access to necessary services such as psychiatry, medical care, and counseling, and, according to legal representation for the plaintiffs, they did not feel safe at the facility. []

In addition, the lawsuit claims that patients’ recovery was impaired and safety compromised because staff often mixed up medications and dispensed incorrect medications to patients; the facility was unhygienic, and illicit substances were brought into the facility. The lawsuit also claims multiple patients sustained serious injuries while under the facility’s care and calls for punitive and compensatory damages. Landmark Recovery, the parent company of Praxis Landmark, has appealed the state’s decision to revoke the licenses of its three Indiana facilities, stating that it believes the decision was based on misinformation. The company has not commented on the lawsuit.[] []

The Praxis center model

Praxis centers are Landmark Recovery’s Medicaid facilities. Landmark has six Praxis facilities around the country and its flagship Landmark Recovery centers, which accept private insurance plans. Most Praxis facilities have opened within the past year. Landmark’s Mishawaka center has 160 beds, all of which are reserved for Medicaid patients.[] 

There’s no doubt that Praxis Recovery centers fill a community need. Addiction is, of course, an ever-present public health concern. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that between 2019 and 2020 alone, overdose deaths increased by nearly 30%. Substance use is also common among people who have or qualify for Medicaid. Data from the Kaiser Family Foundation show that Medicaid beneficiaries eligible due to disability or through Medicaid expansion have higher rates of diagnosed substance use disorders than other groups. Despite this, few addiction recovery centers accept Medicaid. This can make finding care extremely difficult.[][]

It’s, therefore, no surprise that these new centers can fill beds quickly. However, the allegations, violence, lawsuit, deaths, and other problems that have piled up at the Mishawaka location might signal that the company needs to reevaluate its models and methods. Centers without properly trained staff, clean and safe facilities, appropriate care and treatment, and access to necessary counselors and physicians can do more harm than good to patients seeking recovery.

“The most crucial piece of the puzzle is the human element,” says Rehabilitation and Addiction specialist Dr. M. Alvarez, MD. “Training staff on conscientiousness and sensitivity is vital. A competent staff is of the utmost importance.”[] 

The lawsuit and the current licensure revocation could be a sign of changes for Landmark’s Praxis centers and the company’s care model for Medicaid patients.[]

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