Lawsuit Accuses Kratom Brand of Concealing Addiction Risks

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Two Kratom Consumers Are Suing Mit45 Alleging They Became Addicted To The Product Due To Its Misleading Packaging.

A “highly addictive” product that acts like an opioid is being sold at corner stores nationwide without the proper warnings to consumers, a new lawsuit alleges.

Plaintiffs B.D. and L.M. filed the proposed class action lawsuit against MIT45 Inc. on March 14 in a California federal court, alleging the company’s range of “kratom” products violate state and federal consumer laws. The plaintiffs both have addiction issues, and are using their initials to protect themselves from stigma, they say.

Kratom is a type of plant indigenous to Southeast Asia which can produce psychoactive effects when ingested, the lawsuit says. It has similar effects to opioids like heroin, oxycodone and morphine, it says, with the same risk of physical addiction.

Despite this risk, the plaintiffs allege that MIT45 doesn’t disclose this to customers in the marketing of its kratom powder, capsule, gummy, and liquid extract products – leading consumers unknowingly into addiction.

Consumers don’t know what they’re buying, lawsuit says

When most customers buy kratom, they don’t realize that the active ingredients in the product are similar to opioids, with similar addiction and dependency risks, the lawsuit says.

“Kratom is perniciously addictive – on a whole different level than caffeine or nicotine – and it has sunk its hooks into tens of thousands of unsuspecting consumers and caused them serious physical, psychological, and financial harm,” it says.

The plaintiffs say that MIT45 relies on its “innocuous” packaging and the public’s limited knowledge to get users addicted, while reaping profits along the way. Nowhere on the packaging does the manufacturer disclose that kratom can be addictive, they add.

“Defendant has engaged in a systemic effort to peddle an addictive substance to unsuspecting and oftentimes vulnerable consumers,” the plaintiffs say.

Kratom use spikes in United States

Kratom use in the United States has exploded over the past decade into a $1.3 billion a year industry, the lawsuit states.

It says some studies have found that about one million people use kratom in the United States every month.  

Plaintiff B.D. says he first heard about kratom through a smokeshop owner who did not mention the risks of dependency or addiction. At the time, he was getting clean from alcohol and dealing with intense anxiety, he says.

After starting kratom, B.D. says he eventually found himself requiring larger and larger doses.  In 2022, B.D. realized he was addicted to kratom “and felt that he was being held captive by the specter of withdrawal.” Though he wanted to stop, he could not, the lawsuit says. He estimates he has spent at least $25,000 on the MIT45 products.

Meanwhile, L.M. says he turned to kratom because he wanted to responsibly manage his substance dependence without the risk of addiction. Within eight months, he says he realized he simply had a new addiction: Kratom.

Kratom addiction ‘blindsided’ consumers

Because MIT45 does not disclose the addictive potential of kratom, many users have found themselves “blindsided” when they wake up one morning in the throes of withdrawal after having stopped using what they thought was an innocuous supplement, the lawsuit says. 

“They then discover just how painfully dependent they have become on kratom.”

The plaintiffs are looking to represent anyone in the United States who purchased MIT45 kratom products. They’re suing for violations of California’s Unfair Competition Law, Consumers Legal Remedies Act and False Advertising Law, as well as alleged breach of implied warranty, unjust enrichment, fraud by omission and negligent misrepresentation.

They’re seeking certification of the class action, damages, fees, costs and a jury trial.

The plaintiffs and proposed class are represented by Neal J. Deckant and Luke Sironski-White, of Bursor & Fisher.

The Kratom addiction class action lawsuit is B.D et al., v. MIT45 Inc., Case No. 3:24-cv-00499-L-DEB  in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California.

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