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Family Of Nurse Who Died in Kratom Overdose Sues Its Seller

More than a year after a Boynton Beach, Fl., nurse fatally overdosed on a dietary supplement, her family is suing the company that sold it, claiming that it could have prevented the tragedy. Krystal Talavera's fiancé found her lying face down on the floor of their living room on June 20, 2021. A cup of coffee and an open packet of kratom, the supplement medical examiners would later point to as her cause of death, lay on the ground beside her body, reports the Palm Beach Post. Kratom is an herbal supplement known for its pain-relieving and energy-boosting effects, but it also can cause seizures, respiratory failure and, at times, death. In the suit, Talavera's family accuses Grow LLC, the Idaho-based manufacturer that sold her the kratom, of knowing its customers were at risk of addiction, overdose, and death but doing little to warn against the danger. “Krystal Talavera's family and all the other loved ones torn apart by kratom deserve justice,” said Tamara Williams, an attorney representing Talavera's family. She and co-counselor Michael Cowgill are based in Sarasota County, where reports of kratom abuse led officials to ban the substance in 2014. A two-week jury trial is scheduled to begin July 31 under U.S. Magistrate Judge Donald Middlebrooks.


Kratom, or Mitragyna speciosa, is marketed as a cheap, safe alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals. At low doses, it causes a stimulant effect similar to coffee, often sold in the form of a pill, powder, or tea. At higher doses, kratom can produce an opioid-like and euphoric state that has led to a steady growth of abuse. The Food and Drug Administration tested 30 different kratom products in 2019 and found "significant levels" of lead and nickel in them, which researchers said could cause heavy metal poisoning if consumed over the long term. “Despite our warnings that no kratom product is safe, we continue to find companies selling kratom and doing so with deceptive medical claims for which there’s no reliable scientific proof,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in 2018. Kratom advocates say the negative press and push to criminalize herbal supplements are fueled more by corporate greed than actual health concerns. Talavera, 39, didn't know about the health risks associated with kratom, her family said. There was no warning label, no recommended dosage — only the words "Space Dust," the product's name, scrawled in black marker across an otherwise blank bag. She ordered it from Grow LLC where she had purchased kratom products before to use as dietary supplements. Grow LLC and its owner, Harder, should have been well aware of the product's risks, Talavera's attorneys argued. Because the substance isn't regulated by the FDA, it’s up to the manufacturers to ensure its quality.

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