Friday, June 01, 2007

Wal-Mart, 3M sued in teenager's death from solvent

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The parents of a California teenager who died after inhaling an aerosol dust remover sued the 3M Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. on Thursday for selling the substance, which produces a euphoric state when inhaled, without adequate warnings.
The lawsuit, filed in Monterey Superior Court, said both companies knew 3M Dust Remover was popular among teenage inhalant abusers, but continued selling it for years without warnings or an additive that prevents abuse.
"The product has become widely successful -- not so much for its revolutionary cleaning properties -- but because of its known association with inhalant abuse by children and teenagers who seek a cheap 'high,'" the suit said.
The practice of inhaling dust remover products, known as "dusting" has been widely reported by the U.S. media since at least 1999 and generated one national lawsuit, the complaint said.
Wal-Mart was not immediately available for comment. A 3M spokeswoman had no immediate comment.
Kasey Jo Easley, 19, died days after becoming intoxicated from "huffing" 3M Dust Remover purchased from a Wal-Mart store and falling unconscious in a hot tub on November 23, 2006 at a party at a Salinas, California home, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit also names as defendants three men who were at the home during the incident, including one who instructed the girl to buy four cans of 3M Dust Remover.
Attorney Frank Pitre, who represents the girl's parents, said Wal-Mart and 3M knew for more than a decade the product "was commonly and dangerously abused by teenagers as a drug," but failed to add a "bitteragent" used by manufacturers of similar products to prevent inhalant abuse.
3M introduced a bitteragent to the product in March, the suit said.
The suit accuses Wal-Mart and 3M of wrongful death, product liability and negligence and demands punitive damages of an amount to be determined at trial.

From Reuters