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A mother of 4 died after using kratom in Florida, according to the lawsuit. The company owes the family $11 million

A day after celebrating her oldest son’s high school graduation, Krystal Talavera was making breakfast for her partner when she collapsed on the floor of their home in Palm Beach County, Florida.

It was Father’s Day morning on June 20, 2021, when Biagio Vultaggio, the father of her young son, woke up to find her face down, unconscious, in the living room, a federal lawsuit says.

Beside Talavera was her 14-month-old son, who was playing, a cup of hot coffee and an open bag of “Space Dust,” a product derived from kratom, or Mitragyna speciosa, a natural plant with origins in the Southeast Asian that is is commonly sold as a supplement in stores in the United States, according to the lawsuit and his family’s lawyers.

“Space Dust” kratom product.

After Vultaggio called paramedics, they took Talavera to Bethesda East Hospital in Boynton Beach, where she was pronounced dead at age 39, according to an amended complaint filed in federal court.

Talavera, who worked as a registered nurse at Trustbridge Hospice Care in West Palm Beach and had recently been promoted to manager, is survived by her four children.

After an autopsy, the Palm Beach County Coroner listed her official cause of death as “acute mitragynine intoxication,” according to the complaint. Mitragynine is one of the main ones psychoactive components from the kratom plant and one of its many alkaloids.

“At high concentrations, mitragynine produces opioid-like effects, including respiratory failure,” the coroner wrote, according to the complaint.

Talavera’s son Devin Filippelli, who was preparing to attend the University of Florida when he died, sued kratom distributor Grow LLC, doing business as The Kratom Distro, over his death in District Court of the United States for the Southern District of Florida in November. Talavera frequently purchased the company’s kratom products, the complaint says.

Now, U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks has ruled in Filippelli’s favor and ordered Grow LLC to pay more than $11 million in damages to Talavera’s family, mctlaw attorneys in Sarasota, who represented the case, announced in a July 27 press release.

“Of course, there is no amount of money that can compensate for the pain and suffering that Ms. Talavera’s children are going through because of the death of their mother,” Middlebrooks wrote in an order issued on July 26. “The law, however, recognizes that the defendant must pay something, even if it is insufficient.”

Final judgment was entered on July 27, awarding $11,642,895 in damages.

McClatchy News reached out to Grow LLC, owned by Sean Harder, who was also named as a defendant in the case, for comment on July 28 and did not immediately hear back.

Filippelli, now 21, told McClatchy News in a statement that he hoped the judge’s ruling would bring attention and awareness to “the dangers of kratom.”

“I’m grateful for the judge’s decision, but no amount of money will bring my mother back or numb my pain,” Filippelli said.

What you need to know about kratom

Kratom is sold in US stores and online, according to the Food and Drug Administration. About 1.7 million Americans aged 12 and older were reported to be kratom users in 2021.

In Talavera’s case, her friends introduced her to kratom years before her death, according to the lawsuit.

He bought products from The Kratom Distro online and believed it was “a safe and natural dietary supplement” as marketed, the complaint says.

However, the FDA says that kratom is not “suitable for use as a conventional dietary supplement.” Also, the plant is not approved as a prescription or over-the-counter medicine.

Why do people take kratom?

Kratom can be consumed by chewing the leaves, ingesting the powder, drinking a beverage infused with the plant, and more, the World Health Organization says.

This Sept. 27, 2017 file photo shows kratom capsules in Albany, New York.  A US government report released Thursday, April 11, 2019, said the herbal supplement was the cause of 91 overdose deaths in 27 states.

This Sept. 27, 2017 file photo shows kratom capsules in Albany, New York. A US government report released Thursday, April 11, 2019, said the herbal supplement was the cause of 91 overdose deaths in 27 states.

In smaller doses, it can produce kratom stimulating effects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If taken in higher doses, it can produce opioid-like effects.

Has been used for centuries in Southeast Asiawhere it is commonly accepted, similar to drinking coffee in the US, Dr. Christopher McCurdy, a professor of medicinal chemistry at the University of Florida and an internationally recognized kratom expert, previously told McClatchy News.

Kratom is sold in many states, but is the herb safe for pain relief? What the experts say

According to the FDA, people use kratom for a variety of reasons, including to treat pain, anxiety, depression, opiate use, and opiate withdrawal.

Although the FDA warns against consuming kratom due to potential safety issues and addiction risks, the agency supports further research to “better understand the substance and its components.”

The judge’s decision

At trial, Filippelli described Talavera as “the core of the family” as “she was the person who brought everyone together,” Middlebrooks wrote in her July 26 order.

It awarded the more than $11 million in damages to Talavera’s family on three counts specified in the complaint, the final judgment shows.

This includes, according to the complaint, how Grow LLC sold its kratom products “without any notice regarding instructions for use,” how the product was “more dangerous than the average consumer would reasonably expect,” and how the dealer was negligent in selling their products. .

“This $11 million judgment should be a wake-up call to the kratom industry about this dangerous and unregulated substance,” mctlaw attorney Tamara Williams said in a statement.

The outcome of the case comes days after a Washington state jury awarded one family $2.5 million in connection with another kratom wrongful-death lawsuit, McClatchy News reported. mctlaw attorneys also represented this case.

Father found dead in living room after using kratom, lawsuit says. Jury awards family $2.5 million

The father collapsed on the table before he died. The family lawsuit blames the Kratom supplement

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