106: Chain Reaction

Stella Case No. 106, Originally Published: 25 January 2006

In 2003, while Oklahoma State Trooper Nik Green was investigating a mobile lab that was manufacturing methamphetamine, the druggie grabbed Green’s gun and shot him to death. Ricky Ray Malone was convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of the policeman.

Green’s widow, Linda, is bitter. “She wants the companies to pay for what they’ve done, not just to Nik but to everybody,” said her attorney, Gary J. James. Companies? What companies? Green was shot by a felon, and he’s in prison awaiting execution!

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol posted this remembrance of Trooper Green on the 17th anniversary of his murder, 26 December 2020.

These companies: Walmart, Walgreens, several other retailers, Pfizer, Leiner Health Products and Perrigo Co.

What did they do to cause Green’s murder? They made or sold cold medicines which contained pseudoephedrine, which is illegally converted to meth, and they “have known and should have known that a significant part of their cold medicine sale and profits are generated directly from drug addicts and street dealers,” the suit says.

Walmart responded to the suit by noting it did know that, and it has been voluntarily restricting the sales of products containing pseudoephedrine since 1997. Too bad; doing the right thing just isn’t enough.

Meth abuse is a serious systemic social problem with wide-ranging ramifications. The ridiculous abuse of the civil court system to assign blame where there is no wrongdoing is also a serious systemic social problem with wide-ranging ramifications. Putting the two together sure isn’t going to help things.

Sources

  • “Meth Suit Cites Drug Firms”, Portland Oregonian, 28 December 2005.

Case Status

After sixteen years of appeals, the U.S. Supreme court rejected Ricky Ray Malone’s appeal on his murder conviction. The former firefighter, who was 29 when he killed Green, argued he should only have been convicted of second-degree murder because he was [eyes=“rolling”] high on meth when he shot the trooper.

Sadly, while Mrs. Green subsequently remarried school superintendent Dennis Bennett, he was killed in a traffic accident in early 2019. (Source: “Final Appeal Denied for Man Convicted of Killing State Trooper”, KFDX Witchita Falls, 9 October 2019.)

As for the lawsuit, a 2007 Associated Press report noted simply that it had been “settled,” so it is so marked here.

My 2022 Thoughts on the Case

A clear and sad case of finding some deep pockets somewhere to blame even though they were already doing the right thing, and had nothing to do with the tort in question.

In 2004, Oklahoma passed the “Nik Green Act” to require that pseudoephedrine may only be sold by a licensed pharmacy which limits the amount that can be purchased by any one individual per 30 days. The law eventually spread nationwide; “Chain Reaction” turned out to be a particularly apt title for this one.

This is the last of the several catch-up cases published in early 2006 from 2005.

Letters

Bill in, I think, Texas: “I am enjoying reading your book, even though some of the stories are really far out! I spent over 25 years of my life being an in-house attorney defending cases for a Fortune 500 company, many of which were frivolous, and must say that some of these are far worse than what I had to deal with. Regardless of the frivolity of a specific case, the defendant cannot take a chance and ignore the case, but must retain the best counsel in the area to defend it. To do otherwise is foolish in the extreme. Thus, all frivolous cases are expensive.”

Well, Bill, if you think the frivolous cases you had to deal with were expensive, imagine having to do it with a personally hired lawyer, not using in-house counsel paid for by a large corporation! But yes, your point is a great one.

Ralph in Pennsylvania: “Yeah, I’ve got a comment! The first book wasn’t long enough; when is the second coming out? You could make it 500 pages, cost $40.00 or more, and I will still await each release! They are funny and depressing at the same time. The first book wasn’t enough. I want more!”

Well, the publisher gave me 288 pages to “present my case,” but I ended up taking 352. The allowed me to go over not only because they liked what I wrote, but because they also think it’s an important topic.

That said, I don’t plan a second book: the first book covers pretty much everything I have to say on the topic.

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5 Comments on “106: Chain Reaction

  1. RIP Trooper Green.

    However, I think the lawsuit from his widow is ridiculous. Why should a company be responsible for someone using their product not as intended? Or why should a retail establishment be responsible for a customer buying a product?

    In this case, the guilty party is being punished.

    Reply
  2. Am I remembering correctly that you had a story in This Is True many years ago about a woman who was arrested for buying too much pseudoephedrine because she bought some for her husband in her own state and then for her daughter in college in another state?

    Good memory: it was 2009, and a woman bought decongestant for her husband, and then when her daughter got sick she bought some for her. That was a total of 3.6g when the legal limit during the time span was 3.0g. She was taken away in handcuffs and the sheriff and D.A. shrugged: “that’s the law.” -rc

    Reply
  3. I live in Illinois and I got a major stink-eye from a Walmart pharmacist while visiting Arkansas, because there you need a prescription to buy ANY amount of pseudoephedrine and I was just asking for it like it was any other product.

    Thing is, today there are about the same number of drug addicts per capita as there were when you could buy opium and cocaine in the Sears catalog. So what are all these drug laws actually accomplishing?

    There are an awful lot of folks in prison for drug offenses. You could argue that drug addiction is a medical issue and locking the addicts up forces them to get the treatment they need. I know when *I* have a medical issue, my first thought is always “I’d better get my ass into prison right away!”

    I’m not a recreational drug user; I’m just pointing out that the “Drug War” is worse than a failure. It empowers street gangs and makes criminals out of people who are already suffering.

    Also, during allergy season I go through sudafed faster than I’m legally allowed to buy it*. So I have the choice of either stockpiling, which is probably also illegal, or going a week or so every month with killer sinus headaches.

    *(48 tablets/month = 1.6 per day when the dosage is 2 every 6 hours)

    Reply
  4. “The former firefighter, who was 29 when he killed Green, argued he should only have been convicted of second-degree murder because he was [eyes=“rolling”] high on meth when he shot the trooper.”

    One of the first things I was taught when I joined the Canadian Armed Forces, Reserve Infantry, way back in 1969, was that you are totally responsible for your actions when drunk. I have no doubt whatsoever that this would also apply to any other voluntary impairment. Although I am very left-wing liberal, and empathic to human frailties, I see no reason why this shouldn’t be the overriding argument in such a case. No sympathy, unless he can prove that someone held him and forced drugs into his system.

    Reply

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