Product Liability

The Old Tom convinced Bowser that if he wanted to become older and wiser he needed to complete his purchase of the cats’ marijuana crop for the contract price.   Bowser’s dispensary was now fully stocked with the marijuana acquired from the cats.  His first customer was the jackrabbit, who had a medical marijuana card for the relief of pain caused by the incident with the barb wire.  His next customer was PeeWee’s owner.  PeeWee, being an indoor cat, was unable to make her own purchase.  PeeWee didn’t have a medical marijuana card, but her owner felt that the medicine would calm PeeWee’s nerves. Bowser has one of the first 1,000 licenses to sell recreational marijuana in the county so he was able to sell his product to PeeWee’s owner as recreational marijuana.

Five days later Bowser and the cats each received a demand letter from the jackrabbit’s Portland attorney on behalf of the jackrabbit and PeeWee demanding $50,000 for each of them due to their inhalation of mold from the marijuana sold by Bowser and supplied by the cats.  The notice of claim recited that laboratory tests showed that the marijuana did, in fact, contain mold.

Bowser had product liability insurance, but the cats did not. A judgment for $50,000 would ruin them financially. They attempted to reach their San Francisco attorneys, but their attorneys would not return their calls because the cats had failed to pay a bill for $165 for a 15 minute phone call the prior month in which their San Francisco attorneys advised the cats that they did not have a claim against me for animal mistreatment due to my feeding them cat food from a previously opened can. Reluctantly, the cats consulted me regarding the notice of claim for the moldy marijuana.

I informed the cats that if they sold moldy marijuana to Bowser, knowing that he would sell it to the general public, then they would be liable to any purchaser of the moldy marijuana, but that Bowser had a duty to have the marijuana tested for mold (and other harmful substances) prior to sale and that if he failed to do so, then he, too, would be liable to the purchasers of the moldy medicine.  If the marijuana was not moldy when it was sold to Bowser but became moldy after he took possession, the cats would have no liability.  If it was moldy at the time that they sold it to Bowser but they didn’t know it and they were relying on Bowser to have it tested for mold (as required by law) and he failed to do so, then they could still have potential liability but would have a cross claim against  Bowser for any liability claim against them. 

The cats asked me to repeat what I just said.  I told them that they needed to hire a lawyer.

Allen Drescher has practiced law in Ashland and Southern Oregon since 1973.  His practice areas include real estate and business law, estate planning and elder law.

© Allen Drescher