“Former Law Student Sues Head Shops for Selling Him Nitrous Oxide”

by Walter Olson on January 5, 2013

“A former California law student who suffered a spinal cord injury he attributes to nitrous oxide has sued three head shops that sold him the substance.” Jason Starn says after two months of steadily abusing the gas he developed Vitamin B-12 depletion, a side effect of overexposure to the compound. [Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal; Sacramento Bee]

{ 5 comments }

1 Anonymous Nicholas 01.05.13 at 11:39 am

NO2 can be serious. In college a decade ago I had a friend who got into that particular drug and had to be eventually told that his habit was having obvious physical effects. He developed sores around his mouth and his whole face looked vacant. Like so many drugs, a little bit for healthy people is okay, but too much is too much for anybody. He had too much.

This legal case is tough because the head shops obviously knew that their “whip cream chargers” were used for drug recreation. Thus, they can’t credibly claim that they didn’t know. So, with that in mind the law pretty clearly makes it illegal for them to even sell the product, much less without a warning like the warnings found on alcohol and tobacco. In an ideal libertarian utopia the drugs would be legal and would come with little Mr Yuck labels so nobody could claim they somehow didn’t realize that taking a lot of drugs would harm them. But this isn’t an ideal libertarian utopia so it’s not far-fetched to imagine a judge assigning liability where a person profited from hocking dangerous goods.

2 Walter Olson 01.05.13 at 11:54 am

It doesn’t require an ideal libertarian utopia to reject the idea of letting the guy who did the abusing sue for damages.

3 Ron Miller 01.07.13 at 1:54 pm

I disagree with this guy’s claim only because he would seem to be more than 51% responsible for his own injuries. But if these folks are putting out a product they expect will be used illegal and cause risk to the end users that they might not be fully aware of, then something – I don’t know what – should be done.

4 sean 01.07.13 at 10:06 pm

“But if these folks are putting out a product they expect will be used illegal and cause risk to the end users that they might not be fully aware of, then something – I don’t know what – should be done.”
Like Car manufactures they know somebody will drink and drive or get into a accident but still sell them. Then there is every drug known to man, nicotine, caffeine, aspirin, alcohol ect… all can have bad side affects if abused and have laws against abusing them. Hammers and even kitchen utensils have been used to kill people why not hold Walmart responsible? How about we hold the people who do the abusing 100% responsible and quit blaming other people and inanimate objects for what the abuser/criminal has done to himself or others.

5 Ron Miller 01.08.13 at 4:50 pm

Does anyone really need to explain to you the difference? If there was a car made exclusively for driving drunk, we would all have a problem with that. Am I wrong? If they are putting out a product they believe will be used primarily for illegal activity, that is a problem.

I can’t imagine you scared anyone with that slippery slope.

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