I’ve found a couple articles in your paper about the 2012 death of Christoph LaDue in Talent, and the 2014 lawsuit his family filed seeking $5 million from police and a Medford smoke shop over his untimely death. I couldn’t find any information about how the case ended. Do you know the outcome, particularly on the part of Sky High Smoke N’ Accessories?
— Denise, via email
For those just tuning in, 23-year-old Christoph Karl LaDue Jr. died Sept. 5, 2012, after struggling with Talent police and sheriff’s deputies while agitated under the influence of a synthetic drug — prompting police agencies to use stunguns two dozen times before he went into cardiac arrest.
Toxicology tests showed that LaDue had a synthetic drug known as XLR11 in his system, according to court documents filed by Judge Mark D. Clarke in U.S. District Court in Medford. LaDue’s parents claimed in their 2014 lawsuit that their son got the drug from Sky High, which provided a free sample for “Bizarro Incense” sold by Zencense Incenseworks of Florida, now known as ZIW.
LaDue’s parents also filed suit against a host of public agencies including the city of Talent, Jackson County Fire District No. 5 and the Jackson County Sheriff’s office, which have all settled with LaDue’s parents out of court for undisclosed amounts.
Sky High also settled its case with LaDue’s parents in January 2016.
ZIW, which had claimed that Bizarro Incense had a “not for human consumption” warning on the package, is the remaining defendant in the lawsuit.
According to recent filings, ZIW and co-owners Charles Burton Ritchie of Utah and Benjamin Galecki of Florida had entered into a settlement agreement in November in which they agreed to pay LaDue’s parents $600,000 by July 4. LaDue’s parents, however, say that ZIW, Galecki and Ritchie missed the deadline.
ZIW has yet to file a response.
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