The Denver Post reported what may be the country’s first wrongful-death lawsuit against the recreational cannabis industry. The guardians of the children of Kristine Kirk, who was murdered by her husband, Richard Kirk, in 2014, are suing the manufacturer of the edibles he allegedly ingested before killing her, Gaia’s Garden, as well as the dispensary that allegedly sold him the products, Nutritional Elements. The suit claims that the companies were negligent because they failed to provide warnings about the risks of the product.
Attorney Sean McAllister of the McAllister Law Office, who is defending Gaia’s Garden, told the newspaper that his client was in compliance with all state laws at the time. He elaborated in an email that he sent to clients and associates:
Yesterday, an edible company and dispensary got sued because a deranged man ate an edible and then killed his wife. We represent the edible company being sued and are working hard to defend them. This is an important time to review your protections and protocols for these situations.
Sean T, McAllister, Esquire
First, understand this lawsuit is mainly based on an allegation of inadequate labeling and dosage information from a medical label in 2014. The labeling now is much more robust and therefore we will have stronger defenses going forward based on the new labeling. Either way, we believe strongly we will prevail in this lawsuit, but it still costs any company involved lots of money on lawyers, stress and distraction.
McAllister shared four suggestions for manufacturers of cannabis infused products to take into consideration in order to reduce their potential exposure to product liability issues:
- Homogenizing batches.
- Get products liability insurance to protect you and pay for a lawyer to defend you in case you are sued.
- Consider having your vendors (dispensaries) name your edible company as an Additional Insured on THEIR Products policies. The edible company policy will not protect the dispensary and vice versa.
- Make sure the bud tenders are given the start low/go slow advice. Make sure this is in your SOPs.
Sean McAllister is a leading marijuana industry attorney in Colorado. Mr. McAllister helped draft Amendment 64 and he has represented hundreds of dispensaries and marijuana companies since 2009. The McAllister Law Office represents some of the leading marijuana companies in Colorado and is a full service business law firm for the marijuana industry.