Parents Sued Over Son’s Death Say He Left A To-Do List: “Stop Taking Kratom”

Dana and John Pope had never heard of kratom Their 23-year-old son, Ethan, was found dead with their puppy on the kitchen floor in their apartment last December.

Extracted from the leaves of a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia, kratum is used to make capsules, powders and liquids and marketed as an aid for pain, anxiety, and drug dependence. In Georgia and some other states, it is often sold at gas stations and smoke shops.

kratom death suit
Dana and John Pope pose with a photo of their son, Ethan, after a news conference at the Capitol in Atlanta on October 27, 2022.

Kate Brumback / AP

A Georgia Bureau of Investigation autopsy found that Ethan Pope had died of mitragynin intoxication and had no alcohol or illegal drugs in his system. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, mitragynin is a psychoactive compound in kratom.

Dana and John Pope have filed wrongful death lawsuits against nearly a dozen people, companies and organizations involved in the manufacture, marketing and sale of kratom.

Dana Pope said at a news conference on Thursday that she did not know how long her son had been using kratom, but that he may be experiencing adverse effects. In his apartment, he found a to-do list with one thing that stuck: stop taking kratom.

The lawsuit was originally filed in May and an expanded version was filed earlier this week. Lawyers who filed the lawsuit said they wanted to send a message that kratom is unsafe for human consumption.

“The Kratom industry claims that it is a natural, completely safe substance that can lead to greater health and well-being,” said attorney Matt Weatherington. “However, even if this is true, kratom sold in the United States is hyper-concentrated and similar to heroin or other opioids.”

Proponents of kratom say that it is a safe, natural herbal supplement that can help manage pain and reduce the effects of opioid withdrawal.

Ethan Pope bought bottles of OPMS Liquid Kratom in the days before his death. Liquid kratom shots are particularly dangerous, “because they are intended to provide consumers with high concentrations of mitragynin, which increases the risk of overdose and death,” the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit alleges that producers of kratom illegally import it by misclassifying it as an agricultural product and have begun producing, marketing and selling concentrated forms of kratom.

Kratom acts as a stimulant in low doses and as a sedative at high doses. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration, it can be addictive and cause hallucinations, delusions and delusions.

The FDA has not approved any use for kratom and “continues to warn consumers not to use any products labeled containing kratom.” It issued an import alert in 2014 allowing kratom to be confiscated as an unapproved drug.

“There are no FDA-approved uses for kratom, and the agency has received reports about the safety of kratom,” the agency says on its website.

US health officials said in a 2019 report that kratom was a cause of 91 overdose deaths in 27 states. While the majority of those who died had also taken heroin, fentanyl or other drugs, kratom was the only substance found in seven of the deaths.

Another 2019 study found that calls to US poison control centers about kratom increased more than 50-fold, from 13 calls in 2011 to 682 calls in 2017.

The defendants in the lawsuit were negligent in their “duty to prevent injuries arising from the use of their products,” the lawsuit says. That duty includes making a truthful statement about the risks and side effects of kratom and ensuring that the product is consistent in its purity and potency.

Ethan Pope used kratom products for their intended purpose and the defendants “did not provide sufficient warnings and instructions that a normal consumer would expect, and the insufficient warnings made kratom products more dangerous than a normal consumer would expect,” the lawsuit states. Is.

The Optimized Plant Arbitration Solution, or OPMS, lawsuit that says Ethan Pope manufactured the used kratom has been named as a defendant. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment submitted on Thursday via a form on its website.

The lawsuit also alleges that the American Kratom Association, a trade organization, solicits consumers to rely on “false, misleading and materially incomplete medical claims” regarding kratom. This has led to legislation in several states saying it is meant to protect consumers, but it actually facilitated the sale of an unpredictable and dangerous drug, said Drew Ashby, a lawyer for Pops.

“It is unfortunate and disappointing that Georgia is one of the few states in the country that allows it to be sold legally with no real law,” Ashby said, citing a 2019 law that allowed people over 18 restricted the sale of kratom and enforced labeling requirements. that the suit says is not complied with.

The association’s attorney, Daniel Delnero, denied the claims against it.

“The American Kratom Association is a consumer advocacy group dedicated to the education and responsible use of kratom. It was inappropriately linked to this lawsuit, and we will vigorously defend counterfeit claims against it,” he said in an emailed statement. Told.

The trial seeks damages and the jury seeks trial.

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