The Colorado's Drug Dealer Liability Act (DDLA) allows for civil actions against drug dealers. Those who are active in the illegal drug market may face liability for damages incurred by users of their products. There is a similarity between how this Act functions and how actions of consumer product liability do, as it holds a party responsible for the harm caused by their product. The consumer product liability law in CO is geared to target the manufacturer of defective or dangerous products, and does not allow for suits against “innocent sellers” or those simply reselling products under a private label. The DDLA contrasts with this aspect of product liability because the entity responsible for the origination of products in illegal markets is inherently covert. Additionally, “innocent sellers” do not exist in the illegal market which clearly promotes harmful and often lethal products.
The Impact on Small Drug Dealers
The Act allows for potential liability against all participants in the illegal drug market. Small dealers are rarely the focus of the majority of criminal investigations. It is undeniable that “small-time” dealers promote drug usage, and are likely candidates to evolve into larger dealers. The DDLA provides encouragement for illegal drug users to bring action against their drug dealer(s) for the purpose of covering expenses associated with their medical treatment and recovery program.
Recoverable damages for those able to bring actions include:
- Economic damages including expenses for medical care, recovery treatment and other costs associated with illegal drug usage.
- Non-economic damages such as loss of consortium and pain and suffering associated with usage of illegal drugs.
- Legal costs such as fees for attorneys and witnesses, as well as investigators to locate defendants and their assets
The principles of comparative negligence are applicable in these matters. A plaintiff may be eligible for recovery as long as their proportional negligence was less than that of the defendant(s).
Impact of Criminal Charges & Stays of Action
A defendant in a civil case may not deny involvement in marketing illegal drugs if already convicted of doing so in a criminal matter associated with the same claim. A civil suit for damages may still be brought regardless of whether a criminal conviction against the defendant for participating in illegal drug activity exists. A motion to request a stay of action in a civil suit is allowable if a related active criminal matter has not been completed yet.
Statute of Limitations
Actions under the DDLA may be brought until four years after a cause of action occurs. The statute of limitations for defendants continues until six months have passed from a related criminal conviction.
The Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal has been successfully obtaining justice for Colorado injury victims for many years. We offer a client-focused approach which seeks to secure the maximum financial compensation for those we represent in matters of personal injury and wrongful death. For a complimentary consultation, call the office today at (303) 825-2223.