Illinois Family Awarded $16M Judgement Against Drug Sellers in Overdose Death

Illinois Family Awarded $16M

Steven Lorenz was 17 years old when he was sold a fatal dose of amphetamine, which he thought was the drug Ecstasy. His family brought suit under The Illinois Drug Dealer Liability Act (DDLA), which allows drug dealers to be pursued in civil actions for damages caused by the drugs they provide. Steven’s father felt that he should proceed with the case to heighten awareness about the dangers of drugs, and hopefully discourage drug dealing activities.

He cited “symbolic” reasons for following through with the suit and loosely expressed doubt that he would actually receive any funds from the judgment. There were three defendants, two of which were serving prison terms at the time. The suit was filed in McHenry County and a $16M judgment was awarded. This was the first successful case in IL under the DDLA, which has been implemented in various forms in roughly 15 U.S. states.

Purpose of Colorado’s Drug Dealer Liability Act (DDLA)

Colorado has adopted a similar statute as Illinois had for civil liability against drug dealers. The legislature gave three reasons for implementing the law in their declaration:

  • To provide financial reparations for those harmed by an illegal drug.
  • For those who profit from the illegal drug market to shoulder costs and damages.
  • Serve as a deterrent against the sale of illegal drugs by creating the potential for significant financial losses

Key Defining Terms in DDLA

The statute defined an illegal drug as being a controlled substance, which is classified according to Schedule I through V. To be considered as a participant in the illegal drug market, a person is either involved in transporting, importing, selling, administering, or possessing with intent to sell illegal drugs.

Who May Bring DDLA Actions

A parent, guardian, child, spouse, or sibling of an illegal drug user that was impacted may bring such actions. A medical provider, insurance provider, employer, or other organization that provided funds to assist the illegal drug user or their dependents may bring actions. Any individual(s) that suffered injuries as a result of the actions of a drug user which are reckless, willful or negligent may bring suit.

Who Actions Can Be Brought Against

  1. Suit may be brought against those selling or furnishing illegal drugs to the user.
  2. Those knowingly engaging in distributing or marketing illegal drugs obtained by the user.
  3. A suit may not be brought against employers of those in 1 or 2 above if they did not have knowledge of the activity.
  4. Clear and convincing evidence is required in proving liability.

At The Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal, we seek justice for victims in cases of injury and wrongful death. If the actions of another individual have led to hardship for you or a loved one in Colorado, we encourage you to contact the office for a free consultation at (303) 825-2223.

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