The Atlanta Injury News Blog

Synthetic Pot Lawsuit: 16-Year-Old Drowns in Hot Tub

Synthetic marijuana seems to have taken the place of bath salts as the designer drug of the moment.

In March, 16-year-old Chase Burnett was found dead at his family's Fayette County home after smoking synthetic pot. Now his parents David and Yvette Burnett have filed a wrongful death suit against the product's maker, Omerta Labs, and others who allegedly distributed the product to local stores, Courthouse News Service reports.

According to the complaint, David Burnett found his son dead in the family's hot tub March 4. David found an open package of "Mojo Diamond Extreme 100x Potpourri," allegedly a form of synthetic marijuana, next to the hot tub, the suit states. The Burnetts claim that the synthetic pot left Chase unconscious, causing him to drown in the hot tub.

Synthetic marijuana is made by applying chemicals that mimic the effects of pot to otherwise benign herbs and plants. The drugs are often labeled and sold as potpourri in order to avoid sanctions.

According to the synthetic pot lawsuit, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation found that Mojo Diamond contained AM-2201, a chemical "that can cause severe injury, altered Mental and emotional states, illness and death."

The Burnetts' suit claims that Omerta Labs was negligent in producing and selling a product it knew to be potentially dangerous. They also claim the defendants are strictly liable under a product liability cause of action.

In general, product liability law requires that a product meet a consumer's ordinary expectations. Consumers generally don't expect a product to have a dangerous side effect or defect. If a consumer is injured by a defective product he can sue the manufacturer or seller of the product, claiming negligence, strict liability, or breach of warranty.

However, in order to have a viable claim, it must be shown that the claimant was using the product for its intended purpose. Omerta will likely argue that Mojo Diamond is a potpourri and isn't meant to be smoked. But this argument may not stand up in court. Considering Mojo Diamond's "Extreme" label and its sale in convenience stores, it can be argued that consumers are led to believe the product is for recreational use.

According to the synthetic pot suit, Mojo Diamond's packaging offers no warning about the potential dangers of smoking the product. The Burnetts' suit also asserts Georgia RICO violations under the Controlled Substance Analogue Enforcement Act of 1986.

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