Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Against Kratom Manufacturer
Kratom is an herbal supplement that is used by those attempting to kick opioid addiction. It is not authorized for this use, but does trigger the same receptors. The product is available over the counter at gas stations in some states. It has recently become the subject of a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of a Georgia man who died after overdosing on the substance. A medical examiner ruled the cause of death mitragynine poisoning, the active component in kratom. There were no other illegal drugs or alcohol in his system at the time, according to the ME.
Kratom is used by several individuals to self-medicate for pain, opioid withdrawal, or mood enhancement. However, the substance is addictive and potentially fatal in large enough doses. While it’s not dropping bodies as fast as fentanyl, governments are now taking notice that a product available over the counter is causing deaths. This most recent wrongful death lawsuit could be the first in a chain of dominoes that results in adding kratom to a list of schedule 1 substances.
Analyzing the marketing behind Kratom products
It’s okay to sell potentially fatal products over the counter. We do it every day. Acetaminophen accounts for more drug-related deaths than any other drug, including fentanyl. Ibuprofen can also be fatal in high enough doses. However, both products warn users concerning the proper use of the product. They tell you to call poison control if you take too much. They do not tell you that their product is “safe” and “natural” when it’s potentially “fatal” and “addictive”. Therein lies the problem.
In terms of product liability, you can sell a dangerous product so long as the public is adequately warned about the danger. In this case, plaintiffs are claiming that the public is being misled about the safety of kratom. This, in fact, makes the lawsuit actionable. Even if the plaintiff should have known that kratom was potentially fatal, by the time he overdosed, he was already addicted and attempting to stop. He simply could not. In fact, his parents found a “to-do” list with “stop taking kratom” on it. So, it was something he was making an effort to do and wasn’t able to do it without the proper addiction treatment and support.
With due deference to any of the defense’s arguments as the case moves forward, the lawsuit seems actionable on the grounds of failure to warn and product liability.
Meanwhile, proponents of kratom are afraid that a product they use may be taken off the shelves because it is not being used responsibly. They hope to get kratom placed in restricted substances like alcohol or marijuana (in some states) and still be allowed to sell it to those who use it safely.
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