Father collapsed and died during dinner. The family’s suit alleges Kratom

A Georgia father died after mixing a kratom supplement in his drink, his family's wrongful death lawsuit says.

A Georgia father died after mixing a kratom supplement in his drink, his family’s wrongful death lawsuit says.


According to his family, the father mixed a store-bought kratom supplement with orange juice and sat down with his wife and son to eat his last meal.

Attorneys representing his family at mctlaw say that on November 19, 2020, at a dinner table in Georgia, Peter McPherson began shaking before collapsing and passing out. His wife and son tried CPR on him before he was taken to a nearby hospital in Chatsworth, about 85 miles north of Atlanta, where he was pronounced dead.

The Gordon County Medical Examiner ruled that McPherson died of “acute mitragyn (kratom) toxicity,” according to a new wrongful-death lawsuit filed by her family in Gwinnett County.

Now, the family is suing the manufacturers, distributors and sellers of the specialty kratom product McPherson bought before she died, Expert Kratom powder, and says they are to blame, the complaint says.

“Peter and I dreamed of growing old together and playing with our grandchildren,” his widow Cassandra McPherson told McClatchy News on Dec. 12. “These dreams are replaced by sadness and emptiness.”

“I just hope that others don’t go through what we suffered because of kratom,” McPherson said.

McClatchy News reached out to Expert Botanicals, which makes Expert Kratom powder and is named as one of the defendants, for comment on Dec. 12 and did not immediately receive a response.

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According to attorney Talis Abolins, this submitted photo shows the kratom product Peter McPherson consumed before he died. Talis Abolins

Kratom, which is often sold as a dietary or herbal supplement, is becoming increasingly popular in the United States and caused 91 deaths between July 2016 and December 2017, according to a 2019 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

what is kratom

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This Sept. 27, 2017 file photo shows kratom capsules at Mary Esch in Albany, N.Y. AP

Mitragyna speciosa, or kratom, is a plant from Southeast Asia that has not been approved for any use by the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA says it may expose those who consume it to “risks of addiction, abuse, and dependence” and warns against use after receiving “concerning reports” about its safety.

According to the CDC, in small doses, kratom can produce stimulant effects. If taken in higher doses, it can produce opioid-like effects.

“The kratom industry has become so profitable that they are going after big tobacco, hiring lobbyists working to keep the kratom market open for business,” McPherson, who is representing the McPherson family, told McClatchy News in a statement to McClatchy News. Statement dated December 12.

“Consumers should be warned that kratom is not safe and has never been approved for human consumption,” Abolins said.

A lawsuit

This undated photo shows Peter Macpherson. mctlaw

McPherson was 43 when he died after taking kratom, according to the obituary.

Under Georgia law, any Kratom sold in the state is required to have a label with information about the product, including any “precautionary” statements regarding its safety.

The defendants named in the suit are accused of marketing and selling kratom products “based on unsubstantiated and misleading claims regarding the safety and ability to treat, cure or prevent medical conditions and diseases.”

The kratom product McPherson consumed, Expert Kratom, lacked safety warnings about the risks of abuse, dependence, addiction, overdose and death, according to the complaint.

In addition, it was marketed as a “safe and effective alternative to prescription anxiety and/or pain medications,” the complaint states.

Had McPherson been properly warned of the potential safety risks, he “would not have consumed the levels of toxic mitraginine that ultimately killed him,” according to the complaint.

The lawsuit accuses the defendants of failing to comply with Georgia law in the sale and marketing of Kratom products and of negligence on several counts.

He is demanding a trial by jury.

Cassandra McPherson told McClatchy News that her husband’s death made the holidays “especially difficult.”

“Peter was an only child and it took a toll on his parents,” he said. “Her granddaughter Evelyn will never meet her grandfather!”

“While nothing will bring Peter McPherson back, his family hopes that the truth about kratom can stop these tragedies,” said Abolins, the family’s attorney.

Attorneys at mctlaw have filed kratom-related wrongful-death lawsuits in five different states, according to a Dec. 12 news release.

Ultimately, scientists are still trying to fully understand kratom because research on the drug is “relatively new,” according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Julia Marnin is a McClatchy National Real-Time reporter covering the Southeast and Northeast while based in New York. He is a graduate of The College of New Jersey and joined McClatchy in 2021. Previously, she has written for Newsweek, Modern Luxury, Gannett and more.

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