A $2.5-Million Jury Verdict in the First Kratom Wrongful Death Trial in the US

Michael Cowgill

(COWLITZ COUNTY, WA – July 19, 2023) A Washington state jury awards a groundbreaking $2.5 million dollar verdict in a kratom wrongful death case. On Tuesday, July 18th, a twelve-person jury found defendants Wendianne Rook and her company, Society Botanicals, LLC, liable on four claims arising from the kratom death of 39-year-old Patrick Coyne. This is the first jury verdict in a civil claim for damages against a kratom manufacturer or distributor in the United States.

Patrick and Sybil Coyne
Patrick Coyne

The Cowlitz County jury held Ms. Rook and her kratom company liable for: (1) negligence, (2) a defectively designed kratom product, (3) breach of the implied warranty of merchantability, and (4) unfair and deceptive business practices under the Washington Consumer Protection Act. (Case No. 20-2-00874-08 in Cowlitz County, WA). The trial lasted for two weeks and was presided over by Judge Gary Bashor.

Coyne’s widow Sybil says she is glad to finally have justice for Pat. “My family is grateful that the jury has seen the dangers of kratom, and that it does kill.”

“Don’t buy this product, and don’t buy the misinformation of the American Kratom Association and their so-called Kratom Consumer Protection Act,” says Coyne family attorney Talis Abolins of mctlaw.  “This industry is not about protection of consumers; it is 100% about protecting their ability to sell an unsafe product that should not even be in the country.”

Kratom is brought into the United States labeled as “not for human consumption,” often packaged as potpourri, incense, or plant food. It is then sold at convenience stores and head shops as an herbal remedy. Kratom is known to cause organ damage, seizures, psychosis, and death. According to its website, Society Botanicals kratom is sold in more than 700 retail stores across the region. 

“I hope this verdict gets the attention of consumers and puts lawmakers on notice that kratom is hurting families in every state,” says mctlaw attorney Michael Cowgill. “The verdict is a clear indication that jurors understand the risk posed by Kratom and the dangers to people who use it.”  Talis Abolins agrees, saying “this verdict sends a message to the kratom industry that they will pay for hurting people. It also sends a message to US consumers that kratom kills.” 

Society Botanicals Previously Found Negligent

Earlier this year Judge Bashor entered a summary judgment against Society Botanicals, finding the Oregon company negligent due to “inadequate warnings and instructions” on the packaging of their product, called Kratom Divine.

The Kratom Overdose Death of Patrick Coyne

Patrick Coyne lived with his wife and three children in Castle Rock, Washington, and worked as a marine mechanic for Clemens Marine in Portland, OR.  On the morning of June 28, 2020, Patrick’s wife tried to wake him to go buy a motorcycle helmet as a Father’s Day present, but he was unresponsive. First responders arrived, but it was too late. He couldn’t be revived.

The Cowlitz County Coroner confirmed that Patrick died from the “Toxic Effects of Mitragynine (Kratom)” — a plant-based powder imported from Southeast Asia. The kratom powder was packaged as “Kratom Divine” by Society Botanicals.

About mctlaw The attorneys at mctlaw are national leaders in kratom wrongful death litigation and are committed to seeking justice for the families of those impacted by this substance. For questions about kratom litigation across the United States, contact attorney Talis Abolins, attorney Michael Cowgill, and attorney Tamara Williams at 888.952.5242. You can find more information about kratom litigation at https://www.mctlaw.com/medical-product-liability/kratom-lawsuits/

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