The estate of a 20-year-old Royal Oak resident who committed suicide after smoking synthetic marijuana known as K2 or “spice” can sue the owners of a Royal Oak gas station that sold him the substance and its distributor, a judge has ruled.
Anthony Sdao of Royal Oak wrapped a belt around his neck on April 11, 2012 and killed himself in his home. When his body was discovered, a K2 pipe was found next to his body, lawyers representing Sdao’s family said in a lawsuit.
The firm – Rasor Law Firm of Royal Oak – has filed two wrongful death lawsuits in Oakland County Circuit Court on behalf of Sdao’s family, The Detroit News reports.
A promising criminal justice student who wanted to be a police officer, he reportedly wrapped a belt around his neck and committed suicide after smoking a potporri called a “Bob Marley.” A K2 pipe was found beside his body.
The decision Monday by Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Michael Warren allowing the trial to go forward follows more than a year of contentious litigation that the Sdao family attorney Jonathon Marko told The Detroit News was like “going after a drug ring” because of the pyramid structure of the distribution network..
“It’s been like pulling teeth to get people to even talk,” Marko told the newspaper. “Some have taken the Fifth (Amendment against self-incrimination).”
For example, Rabih Masri, the distributor Yassmine Wholesalers, refused to answer questions about the sale and distribution of Spice in a March 20 deposition, invoking his right to remain silent 50 times, Marko said in the statement.
Similar distributors have been federally indicted across the United States.
Spice was legally available over the counter when Sdao legally purchased it from the 12 Mile and Campbell Road Mobile station. Many businesses had removed the product from their inventories when Royal Oak police warned about dangers associated with the use of K2.
Casualties are close to home, including an 18-year-old from Bloomfield Township who overdosed on the drug and the 2012 attack on the Cipriano family in Farmington Hills, when a 19-year-old killed his 52-year-old and injured other family with a baseball bat in a K2-induced frenzy.
In bringing the case against the Royal Oak gas station and distributor before the court, Marko is relying on the testimony of Birmingham psychiatrist Dr. Gerald Shiener, who said Sdao’s premature death was a direct result of smoking the Spice he had purchased at the gas station.
The trial will begin June 2 in Warren’s courtroom. Among the plaintiffs’ requests are that the gas station be prohibited from selling any toxic substances.
Laws making K2 and Spice illegal in Michigan took effect July 1, 2012. The phsical side effects of the synthetic marijuana include loss of control, seizures, hallucinations, vomiting and elevated heart rate and blood pressure.
The trial will take place starting June 2 in Judge Warren's courtroom in Oakland County Circuit Court. Plaintiffs have indicated they will be asking the Court to order that the gas station cease and desist any selling of the toxic substance in the future.
The lawsuit is asking for an undisclosed amount and alleges that the Defendant manufacturers and sellers knew or should have known that the drug was dangerous and should not have sold it to Sdao.