A Florida judge has ordered a kratom distributor to pay more than $11 million in a wrongful death lawsuit. Judge Donald Middlebrooks issued a final default judgment against Grow, LLC, and Sean Michael Harder, owner and operator of The Kratom Distro, for the kratom-induced death of 39-year-old Krystal Talavera, a mother of four.
The 39-year-old Talavera was face down on the ground next to an open bag of a kratom derivative marketed as a “space dust”, her family has said. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.
An autopsy later listed Talavera’s cause of death as acute intoxication from mitragynine, a main kratom component. The local coroner whose office performed Talavera’s autopsy wrote in a report that “at high concentrations, mitragynine produces opioid-like effects, such as respiratory failure”.
According to the CDC, “Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa), a plant native to Southeast Asia, contains the alkaloid mitragynine, which can produce stimulant effects in low doses and some opioid-like effects at higher doses when consumed (1). Use of kratom has recently increased in popularity in the United States, where it is usually marketed as a dietary or herbal supplement (1). Some studies suggest kratom has potential for dependence and abuse (1,2).”
Grow LLC, Kratom Distro’s owner – Sean Michael Harder – told the Guardian on Saturday that he had no comment on Middlebrooks’s judgment or whether he may seek a reversal of it. The judgment was a default one, meaning the company did not try to defend itself in the preceding litigation.
One of the attorneys for Talavera’s family, Tamara Williams, said in a statement that the judgment won by her clients “should be a wake-up call to the kratom industry”.
Williams’s firm said it had also recently won a $2.5m jury verdict against a kratom manufacturer in Washington state after a separate lawsuit alleging a wrongful death.
A colleague of Williams, Michael Cowgill, called on government officials to take steps “to protect other families from having to deal with unnecessary kratom overdose deaths”.