PRESS CONFERENCE – 11:00 am – Thursday, October 27, 2022, at Georgia State Capital, South Wing Stairs


ATLANTA, GA, October 26, 2022: Marietta-based Ashby | Thelen | Lowry and Atlanta-based Wetherington Law Firm are warning consumers that health supplements containing kratom are addictive and deadly.

The powerhouse defective product liability firm says that kratom is a drug currently sold openly in stores, popular with teenagers, and already responsible for hundreds of deaths in the United States. Kratom is a plant from Southeast Asia. The plant is processed and sold in a variety of drinks, pills, and other products widely available in the United States. Kratom proponents claim that it offers a euphoric feeling and is a safe alternative to heroin. The FDA says that the product’s claims are unverified.

The parents filing the lawsuit claim that their 23-year-old son died after consuming O.P.M.S. Kratom, a product sold at gas stations and smoke shops throughout the country. According to attorney Matt Wetherington, “You don’t expect to go into a store and find something similar to heroin between energy drinks and breath mints. We intend to hold every single person and entity involved in the distribution and sale of these products responsible.”

Due to its potentially deadly opioid-like effects, the FDA has issued an import ban on Kratom. Atlanta class action lawyer Drew Ashby says, “Despite the ban, kratom distributors continue to bring it into the U.S. They are knowingly poisoning our communities.” He adds, “The kratom industry hides behind pseudoscience and well-funded interest groups that peddle kratom as a miracle drug. They try to keep the public from finding out that kratom is highly addictive and deadly.”

The Kratom Lawsuit identifies over a dozen defendants, including manufacturers, distributors, and retailers of Kratom products. Notably included in the suit are Peyton Palaio, former U.S. Department of Health and Human Services official Mac Haddow, and the American Kratom Association (“AKA”). The lawsuit claims that Palaio was previously involved in manufacturing and selling synthetic marijuana products that killed multiple people, including a 16-year-old boy in Georgia. Now, attorneys claim that he is the ringleader of the nation’s largest kratom brand. Haddow is the current Senior Fellow on Public Policy for AKA. According to the suit, AKA is involved in a scheme to falsely certify kratom products as safe to deceive the public. According to the suit, Prior to joining AKA, Haddow pled guilty to using a non-profit to funnel tens of thousands of dollars to himself as alleged kickbacks. The suit is currently pending in Gwinnett County, Georgia.

The Wetherington Firm has protected millions of families from dangerous products and deceptive corporate practices. Their efforts have resulted in some of the largest jury verdicts in the country, international product recalls, and helped shape U.S. product safety policy. Most recently, attorneys Matt Wetherington and Eli Cohen took on a global health supplement network that sold prenatal health products and other supplements containing radioactive heavy metals. As a result of their efforts, the products were banned in seventeen countries, and the company shut down.

Ashby | Thelen | Lowry is nationally recognized for changing dangerous industries through rigorous investigation, litigation, and jury trials. They turn over every rock to discover exactly what happened—and why—and then give jurors the opportunity to hold wrongdoers accountable. Their verdicts have been among the most significant in the country in 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. Their efforts have forced numerous corporations to cease dangerous practices and have resulted in five nationwide recalls of deadly defective products.


Matt Wetherington