The families of three people (including two children) killed in a horrific North Florida crash are suing the manufacturer of a product consumed by the at-fault driver prior to the collision.
It’s an interesting case that many car accident attorneys are watching carefully. It’s noteworthy because makers of products like alcohol or opiates generally are not held liable for the actions of those under the influence of those products. In this case, WCTV.com reports the families are suing the product manufacturer for making and selling a product called “spice” knowing and intending for it to be consumed – knowing it was unsafe to do so.
The product in question was named “Purple Chronic,” and plaintiffs allege the company manufacturer specifically named it this as a play on words, knowing “chronic” is slang for marijuana. The company manufacturer insisted in recent testimony the product was never intended for human consumption – a fact that is expressly stated on the label – and for this reason, did not feel compelled to print warnings on the product indicating the dangers of consumption or even list the ingredients.
While on the stand, the company’s CEO was questioned about this element. Plaintiff’s attorney asked him why, if spice wasn’t intended for human consumption, was it being sold in smoke shops and tobacco shops, instead of at places like Bed Bath and Beyond that sell scented potpourri. He responded the company “heard rumors that people were consuming it.”
Plaintiff attorneys are now fighting to have a portion of certain deposition transcripts read allowed to the jury. In those transcripts, defendant CEO reportedly admitted to using the internet to market and sell controlled substances (including synthetic marijuana) for consumption by people.
A former employee at a store that sold the product said boxes of the product were purchased at a warehouse in Pensacola, where no on was allowed to enter. He believed the product was made there because of the aroma, but he was never allowed in past the front door. Employees were also sometimes directed to the company’s website to determine which flavors were popular. They were then instructed to put the product at eye level, just above the cigarette rack.
It’s alleged the other driver purchased the product there.
The Florida car accident in question occurred in Tallahassee on St. Patrick’s Day 2012. Plaintiff, a husband and father, was driving his wife, 10-year-old son and his son’s friend when they were struck by the spice-impaired motorist on Monroe Street. The driver was later arrested, admitted he was high on spice at the time of the crash and was sentenced 22 years in prison for vehicular homicide.
Plaintiffs contend that were it not for this Purple Chronic product, which they say is illegal under federal law, this crash would not have occurred.
Defendants’ attorney says that while they are sympathetic to the family, they do not believe their client is legally responsible, the same way Budweiser wouldn’t be held liable for a drunk driving accident.
The trial is underway and could last several more weeks.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Tallahassee families sue spice manufacturer for triple deadly crash, June 5, 2018, By Julie Montanaro, WCTV.com
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Makers of Anti-Crash Technology Systems Facing Liability for Collisions, May 29, 2018, Orlando Car Accident Lawyer Blog