Class-action suit grows against firm accused of handing out pot-laced candy at Denver County Fair

DENVER - More people have joined a class-action lawsuit against a company accused of giving people samples of marijuana-laced chocolate at the Denver County Fair's "Pot Pavilion," which was supposed to be drug-free.

Seven named plaintiffs have joined the lawsuit's amendment complaint, which Boulder attorney Corey T. Zurbuch filed in Denver County Court. It names as the defendant Beyond Broadway LLC, which does business as Full Melt Chocolate and LivWell.

However, the lawsuit, which was originally filed on Aug. 7, now states that the class-action suit "as initially defined includes in excess of 100 individuals."

The victims were sickened while eating "free samples" of Full Melt Chocolate, provided by LivWell at a Pot Pavilion exhibit during the County Fair, which ran from Aug. 1 through Aug. 3, the lawsuit states.

The Denver County Fair's website for the Pot Pavilion expressly provided that "No marijuana will be onsite."

"This civil action is for personal injuries arising from the defendants' negligent distribution of marijuana-infused chocolate bars under the guise that they contained no Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the principal psychoactive constituent (or cannabinoid) of the cannabis plant," the lawsuit states.

Yet, after eating the free chocolate, victims named in the lawsuit began "to feel strange" and "physically ill."

Last month, a Denver County Fair spokeswoman said the fair was investigating at least three separate cases of attendees reporting they were drugged after eating a Full Melt Chocolate bar. She said at least two of those people went to the hospital after they became dizzy, sick and confused. They tested positive for THC.

One lawsuit plaintiff, Jordan Coombs, of Longmont, was forced to leave the fair after eating the chocolate on Sunday, Aug. 3, because of his "deteriorating health." As his wife was driving him away, Coombs "projectile vomited uncontrollably" in the car, the lawsuit states.

According to the suit, Coombs' wife drove him to Swedish Medical Center, where "physicians at the emergency room diagnosed the plaintiff as overdosing on THC."

Another fair-goer, Richard Jones, told 7NEWS he was drugged by the same chocolate at the Pot Pavilion that Sunday.

Jones, who has not joined the class-action lawsuit, told 7NEWS that an hour after eating the chocolate he became dizzy and had to sit down.

"I was sweaty. I was nauseous. I was panicking. I was afraid it was a stroke or a heart attack," Jones said.

On-site EMTs first attended to the Arvada man before calling him an ambulance. Tests at the hospital revealed Jones had more than 100 nanograms of THC in his system, or about 20 times the legal driving limit.

Plaintiff, Jerelyn Jayme, after eating chocolate at the Pot Pavilion during the weekend of the fair, said she was still so "adversely affected" on Monday that she had to leave work -- on her first day at a new job, the lawsuit states. She went to an urgent-care center where she was treated with anti-nausea medication, but continued to be sick for several days.

After eating the chocolate, Gregory C. Lindfors, feared he was having a stroke and sought treatment from an EMT at the fair, the lawsuit states. He was taken to the emergency room at University of Colorado Hospital, where he was given a CT scan, blood tests and a urinalysis. "He was diagnosed as having an overdose of THC," the lawsuit states.

Soon after returning from the fair to her Denver apartment, plaintiff Haillee Passow became ill, began to shake and have trouble breathing. She experienced tunnel vision and began vomiting, the lawsuit said.

She called her parents in Wisconsin, who in turn called 911, where dispatchers had Passow transported by ambulance to Denver Health Medical Center. She tested positive for THC and was diagnosed with tachycardia -- an abnormally fast heartbeat, the lawsuit states. She missed a week of work, costing her $480 in wages.

Another plaintiff, Brian Ruden, of Golden, was sickened for 24 hours, at times losing consciousness and the ability to communicate, the lawsuit said. He also missed a week of work.

The lawsuit seeks damages for several causes of action, including allegations that LivWell distributed an "unreasonably dangerous" food product, committed negligence, breach of warranty, and negligent infliction of emotional distress. LivWell is also accused of failing to label the product as required under state marijuana laws.

Under each allegation, the lawsuit calls for a judgment that is "fair and reasonable" to cover costs and for any "relief the Court deems proper."

Beyond Broadway LLC, located at 5141 Franklin Street in Denver, appears on the list of retail marijuana product manufacturers licensed by the state of Colorado.

Last month, the company released the following statement about the allegations:

"We are aware that someone made a complaint to 7NEWS alleging that chocolate samples distributed at the Denver County Fair contained cannabis. If this occurred it was without our knowledge and was not sanctioned by our company. We are currently investigating the matter."

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