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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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when a person supplies heroin to an adult, and the adult dies

Customer Question

when a person supplies heroin to an adult, and the adult dies from an overdose, is the supplier responsible for the death?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Ely replied 4 years ago.
Hello, my name is Ely. Welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice; and (2) my function is to give you honest information and not necessarily to tell you what you wish to hear. Note: there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

I am very sorry for your loss.

The answer is yes. First of all, dealing drugs in itself is illegal. A cause of action based on criminal activity is called a derivative tort. Ergo, the claim is based on the criminal conduct of defendant which resulted in injury.

In Illinois, "whenever the death of a person shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages in respect thereof, then and in every such case the person ... would have been liable if death had not ensued, shall be liable to an action for damages." (740 ILCS 180/), also see Chrisafogeorgis v. Brandenberg, 304 NE 2d 88 - Ill: Supreme Court 1973.

Now, there is discussion as to whether or not the person who had passed away from an overdose acted strictly by themselves to make that choice as to whether or not to take the drug, but it also depends on whether or not the dealer knew that the drug was lethal, and/or if dealer knew that the person may overdose.

Such suits have been sometimes successful and sometimes not, and so far, no "pattern" can be established if such suits are guaranteed to be successful in any way. However, it may be filed and heard - yes.

Good luck.

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