‘Death weed’ companies sued by teen’s parents
Suit: businesses knew synthetic marijuana was dangerous, sold to minors
The parents of a local teen who died in March after inhaling synthetic marijuana are going after the manufacturer of the illegal drug, which was sold on the shelves of area convenience stores.
David and Yvette Burnett have filed a lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court, seeking not just punitive damages and attorney’s fees, but also asking for all the assets of Peyton Palaio and several companies to be frozen and ultimately, seized.
The lawsuit notes that when Chase Corbitt Burnett was found dead in his family’s hot tub, an open package of the Mojo Diamond synthetic marijuana product was found nearby.
A statement from the Burnett family coins a pointed term to refer to synthetic marijuana products: “The Death Weed.”
The lawsuit claims that Palaio and the companies, Omerta Labs, WG Distribution, and Lunar Labs participated in the manufacturing and distribution of Mojo Diamond, which consisted of herbs sprayed with a synthetic marijuana. The drug was marketed as a potpourri although the company knew that the product was smoked, often by minors, who bought the drug at convenience stores, according to the lawsuit.
It turned out to be a deadly choice for Chase Burnett, according to the lawsuit, which cites a report from the Georgia Medical Examiner’s Office following an autopsy that determined the product caused Burnett’s death.
“Prior to the death of Chase Burnett, Lunar and the Palaio defendants knew that the primary if not sole use for the synthetic marijuana they manufactured and/or distributed was to ‘get high,’” the lawsuit claims.
The defendants also knew that synthetic marijuana posed a dangerous risk to consumers, according to the lawsuit.
The family notes that prior to his death, Chase Burnett was “perfectly healthy” and the autopsy found there were no natural causes contributing to his death.
Burnett was an honor student and soccer player at McIntosh High School, and his parents are committing to taking actions to “keep synthetic drugs off the shelves of stores and out of the hands of minors.”
“Everyone who has played a part in this and many other tragedies should be held responsible — the drug dealers who import deadly chemicals and spray them on herbs, the distributors who place them in convenience stores, the managers and owners of the stores who sell these drugs to minors and the national chains and franchisors who until recently allowed these drugs to be sold in their franchises,” the family said. “It has been all about the money. It is time for it to be about our children.”
The Burnetts are advocating for parents and the public to stay away from local businesses that sell dangerous synthetic drugs to children.
The family is working with legislators and law enforcement to develop additional state and federal legislation to stop the sale of dangerous synthetic marijuana, and they are also setting up a foundation to educate parents and teenagers and to warn the public of the dangers of these products.
Earlier this year, the Georgia legislature passed “Chase’s Law” to help stop the sale of synthetic marijuana, and the legislation, signed by Gov. Nathan Deal, has been used to seize the illegal products so they can’t be sold.
A lawsuit represents only one side of a given dispute. Attorneys for the defendants are expected to file a response to the allegations within a matter of weeks.