An East Baton Rouge Parish man who claims he suffered terrifying hallucinations and serious injuries last fall after smoking a product labeled “potpourri/incense’’ is suing the owners of the College Drive store where he allegedly made the purchase.
John Alexander Radford also is seeking damages from several companies that allegedly manufactured or distributed the product.
“The product was labeled as ‘potpourri/incense’ but was practically sold as, marketed as and intended by the manufacturer and seller to be used as a synthetic version of marijuana to be smoked or otherwise consumed as an intoxicant,’’ the lawsuit asserts.
An attorney for Baton Rouge businessman Tim Minh Tran, one of the suit’s named defendants, on Friday called the suit frivolous and said Radford “needs to take responsibility for his own actions.’’
Baton Rouge police arrested Tran in July for allegedly keeping more than 4 pounds of synthetic marijuana at his business, Tim’s Wholesale at 4000 Florida Blvd.
Tim’s Wholesale also is a defendant in Radford’s suit.
Lance Unglesby, an attorney who represents Tran, said the product Radford complains of states that it is not for human consumption.
“This individual clearly made a lifestyle choice to smoke a product not intended to be smoked,’’ he said.
Radford’s attorney, Johnny deGravelles, said he believes it was “totally irresponsible and unconscionable for retailers to sell what turned out to be an extremely dangerous product knowing the real reason it was being purchased.”
“Hopefully this lawsuit will keep this kind of thing from ever happening again,’’ he said.
Radford contends in the suit that the potpourri/incense he bought from a convenience store at 2385 College Drive on Nov. 5. was kept in glass display cases, and that glass pipes used primarily for smoking marijuana and similar substances were kept in those same or adjoining display cases.
Radford says in his suit, filed Oct. 24 in the 19th Judicial District Court in Baton Rouge, that he smoked the potpourri/incense and developed an extreme psychosis that caused him to experience “extreme and terrifying hallucinations.’’
“While experiencing and reacting to these hallucinations, Alex Radford sustained … severe burns to his hands and face. Those burns to his hands were so severe that Alex Radford lost both of those appendages,’’ the suit states.
Radford’s suit alleges the potpourri/incense was “defective and unreasonably dangerous’’ and “inadequate in its instructions and/or warnings.’’
The suit says the College Drive store is owned by College Quick Stop.
Nidal Darkhalil, who works at the store and is a defendant in the suit, said Thursday he was unaware of the suit but denied that the store sold the potpourri/incense to Radford.
“We stopped (selling it) a long time ago,’’ he said. “A lot of stores are selling it. We are not.’’
Darkhalil’s brother, Mohammad Darkhalil, also is named as a defendant.
Gov. Bobby Jindal signed legislation into law in the summer of 2010 that prohibits the manufacture, sale and possession of an herbal mixture that gives a marijuana-like high when smoked but is sold as herbal incense.
The legislation levied penalties such as those attached to the use and sale of marijuana.
But soon after the law went into effect on Aug. 15, 2010, a different version of the product, excluding the chemicals specifically made illegal, was on the market.
Several months ago, Jindal signed additional legislation into law that expands the encyclopedia of chemicals banned as controlled dangerous substances in Louisiana. The targeted chemicals are used to create so-called bath salts and synthetic marijuana.
The Jindal administration characterized House Bill 12 as a permanent ban.
Other states have enacted similar bans.
Radford’s suit has been assigned to state District Judge Mike Caldwell.