Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/01/11/drug_coma_lawsuit/

Junkie sues pusher over heart attack

Crystal meth → coma → lawsuit

By Lester Haines

Posted in Bootnotes, 11th January 2008 13:35 GMT

A Canadian former drug addict has successfully sued the dealer who supplied the crystal methamphetamine that triggered a heart attack and put her in a coma for 11 days, the Times reports.

Sandra Bergen, 23, of Biggar, Saskatchewan, alleged that "her nursery-school classmate Clinton Davey got her addicted to crystal methamphetamine by offering her a free dose when she was only 13 years old". She subsequently kicked the habit and had been drug-free for eight months until she met Davey at a friend's house in 2004, shortly before her 20th birthday.

She recounted: "Prior to taking the drug, I was very nervous because I had to appear in a sexual assault trial where I was the victim. So I was having a bad day, you might say. Usually what he does is he offers you some for free because he knows you are addicted. Once you have some, he offers to sell you some.

"He told me to go over to his grandmother's house. That's where I went. We did drugs together there. Then I got him money for the drugs... We smoked some. Then I had symptoms of a heart attack."

In her lawsuit, in which Bergen also named the unknown supplier "John Doe" who'd supplied the crystal meth to Davey, she said the latter was aware the the drug was highly addictive and its sale was "for the purpose of making money but was also for the purpose of intentionally inflicting physical and mental suffering on Sandra".

Davey filed a defence statement denying the allegations and stating that Bergen "did assume the risk to her person when she voluntarily ingested the illegal drugs".

However, Davey refused to name "John Doe" in pre-trial discovery, "putting him at risk of a contempt-of-court charge", and the judge duly entered a default judgment against him.

Bergen said of the lawsuit: "It's bigger than me and it's bigger than this guy. I think it's a different way to hit drug dealers financially, and that is where it would really hurt them. I have gotten sober. I think that's taking responsibility for my actions. I don't think I should have to take responsibility for both of our actions. I think he should meet me half way. That's what this lawsuit is about.”

Calvina Fay, director of the Drug Free America Foundation, said the case "could offer a new avenue to pursue drug dealers", adding: "This obviously sets a precedent, but it also makes the public aware of this whole concept. It's a way of holding drug dealers responsible for their actions."

Gwen Landolt, a lawyer and VP of the Drug Prevention Network of Canada, said such lawsuits "would be useful in reining in the drug trade", but cautioned that the case "hinged on an unusual set of facts and voiced scepticism that courts would routinely hold dealers responsible for drug-taking by users".

She concluded: "It could be very useful that there would be criminal and personal liability. But it's not the normal set of facts."

Damages against Davey will be decided at a future hearing, but although Bergen is claiming $50,000, she admitted: "I don't really expect to gain much financially." ®