Parents sue Amazon for selling ‘suicide kits’ popular with teens…

Found on Twitter thread reader:

Last Friday, CBS cancelled a segment about our clients suing Amazon for selling suicide kits to their now deceased kids. CBS’ cowardice gave me renewed clarity about how urgent this litigation is. 🧵@naomi_leeds 1/ 
As background, on Feb 3, 2022 we filed a lawsuit in WA State against Amazon on behalf of the Estate of Mikael Scott. In Dec. 2020 Mikael purchased a chemical from Amazon, 98% pure Sodium Nitrite, for $19.99. 2/ 
It was prime delivered two days later. He died three days after that. There is no household use for pure SN, a chemical that when mixed with water and swigged causes a very painful death within 20 min. 3/ 
(NOTE: the product we’re suing about should not be mistaken for curing salt which is only 6% pure SN and used to cure meats.). Starting in April 2021, we began urging Amazon to stop 4/ 
selling suicide kits to households. Unlike other products that could be used for suicide (i.e. knives, ropes), there is no other use for Sodium Nitrite at this level of purity outside the laboratory. And Amazon was bundling SN with other products to basically create 5/ 
create a suicide kit — Amazon recommends that purchasers also buy Tagamet to avoid vomiting up the poison, a personal use scale to measure the proper quantity, and the Amazon Edition of the Peaceful Pill Handbook, a suicide manual with an entire chapter on how to die by SN. 6/ 
Amazon also routinely removed 1-star reviews from grieving family members trying to warn about the dangers. Amazon’s own search engine helped guide people to the product through autofills. 7/ 

At the time, we were also taking action with Congress and DOJ and the press to stop the pro-suicide forum that directs people to buy this product from Amazon.

Amazon’s lawyers from Perkins told us Amazon would continue to sell SN because they can’t be held liable if 8/ 

somebody uses one of their products for suicide.

NOTE: it is against the law in our country to aid or assist in another person’s suicide. In 11 states, under exceedingly narrow and legislated circumstances, physicians are allowed to 9/ 

carefully facilitate the death of a proven terminally ill patient. However, contrary to what Amazon may think, there is no exception in the law that allows for corporate-assisted suicide.

The day we got the letter from Amazon’s attorney defending their right to continue to sell this product was a turning point in my life. At the same time, my partner in this case and I realized this: Amazon is a serial killer.

Amazon’s decision to continue selling the suicide product was not out of ignorance or obliviousness. It was an intentional counseled decision.

I’d later find out that two weeks after the Perkins lawyers sent me that letter, Amazon sold and prime delivered 12/ 

17 year old Tyler M from Santa Cruz, California a bottle of SN – the exact same brand as they’d sold to Mikael. His parents went out to dinner for two hours and that was the last time they saw him alive. 13/ 

Tyler was an athlete, a musician, a math whiz, weeks away from graduating from high school and had never given anybody a hint that he was struggling.

When we filed the lawsuit against Amazon on behalf of Mikael, Tyler’s parents saw an article about it and reached out to us.14/ 

We made a motion in the WA State Court to add Tyler as a party. Amazon’s lawyers said on the record that it would be “unfair and inhumane” for the two cases to be combined. The judge granted our motion to combine the cases. 15/ 
On June 17, 2022 we argued against Amazon’s motion to dismiss the case on account of corporations always being totally immune from any liability for suicide. The judge said she’d have a decision in two weeks. We’re still waiting. 16/ 
For all these months, we’d deliberately avoided press attention to the case. However, we kept hearing from more and more families whose loved ones purchased SN from Amazon and a couple other small online shops that have popped up. 17/ 
Even more heartbreaking, we got several cases where the children had consumed the SN, immediately notified their loved ones that they’d ingested it and regretted it, and even though EMS reached them in time, 18/ 
they didn’t recognize the telltale symptoms, saw no instructions on the bottle, and had to contact poison control as the child died in front of them. There is a very effective antidote for SN: Methylene-blue. 19/ 
But medical providers don’t know in time to give it. (Macabre as it is, Amazon used to sell ad space on the SN page to a company advertising Methylene Blue) We also had a case where a mom saw somebody had ordered SN from her Amazon account, 20/ 
she didn’t recognize the product and reported it to Amazon. But they sent it anyway after confirming her order was cancelled.
A news piece seemed essential to alert doctors, emergency medical providers and parents. Plus, maybe it would pressure Amazon to stop selling it. 21/ 

We figured it could save thousands of lives.

So a couple weeks ago, I reached out to producers on 60 Minutes with whom I’d collaborated with on their Section 230 segment two years ago. 22/ 

They told us they didn’t think they could get the 13 minutes they’d need for a 60 Min segment and urged us to work with their news team. They said they could maybe get two five-minute segments on consecutive days. 23/ 
They told us that there were these two investigative producers who were aggressively and passionately asking to do the piece. We reluctantly said okay. . From the earliest conversations with 60 Minutes and then CBS News, we asked for absolute confirmation 24/ 
that the network would be willing to talk about suicide – and specifically a method – on the news. We suggested they go talk to suicidologists about how to report it sensitively. 25/ 
We were assured multiple times that the network was approving the segment and was actively being advised about how to handle it carefully. It would not the first time they had covered suicide. 26/ 
They said they were doing it during National Bullying month and this would be part of a series where there’d be tons of resources for viewers. I couldn’t believe how 27/ 
persistent they were in convincing us to let them do the story. Feeling optimistic that their clear dogged passion for the story, plus repeated affirmations of their ethics and expertise, would create a thorough 28/ 
and professional piece, we agreed to move forward. I told them about Tyler’s case, sent them the complaint, told them about a new filing we were planning for families of a 16 year old and 17 year old 29/ 
whose loved ones also died from SN that Amazon sold them. I connected them with staff members at Representative Trahan’s office who we’ve gotten really interested in the SN/Amazon issue 30/ 
and who led the way in sending Amazon a letter last January demanding they account for the SN sales (Amazon blew them off). I gave them the contact information for a toxicology expert. 31/ 

They wanted to speak to our clients on the record.

We had multiple intense conversations with our clients about what it would mean to participate in a national news story. We vouched for the CBS team and forwarded onto our clients the other pieces they’d done about suicide. 32 

Participating was a huge decision for our clients. In one of our cases, the child’s own siblings didn’t know the method she’d used. In another case, the child’s parent was riddled with guilt for obliviously leaving the unopened box containing SN on the counter. 33/ 
The CBS producers repeatedly assured us they would be kind and careful with our clients. As a lawyer, it is always very scary to introduce a client to the media when they’re dealing with catastrophic trauma and loss 34/ 
Doesn’t trot new clients out for press conferences or media alerts. Scrutiny from the media on top of the loss on top of the tumult of suing on top of their digital footprint forever associated with their loss – it’s just too jarring and rarely in the clients’ best interest. 35/ 
These clients, though, are motivated to save lives and pressure Amazon to stop selling the product. They were willing to put their own needs second if it meant their child’s death could save others.
Last week, while we were hustling to meet a filing deadline on the new case, 36/ 
, I was in frequent communication – calls, texts, zooms — with the producers who were rushing the story for October. They asked for an exclusive on the new filing. 37/ 
I let them have a Zoom with one set of parents – though not before asking for double confirmation that the project was going forward, because, I explained, every time the parents have to discuss their child’s suicide, it’s traumatizing and breaks their heart in two. 38/ 
Then this past Friday, when CBS was in the process of firming up our client’s air travel to NY for filming, the producer called me to tell me he was very sorry. Turns out, he said, that higherups at CBS quashed the story.

He said it was because they didn’t want to risk anybody dying from suicide on account of their segment. Well, I really let this guy have it.

My clients took it graciously, but they also saw through the explanation. 40/ 

One of them said, “Everyone is afraid of Amazon, but it will come out when it’s time.” Another said “Maybe the execs at CBS didn’t want to be too hard on Amazon since they have a partnership with Amazon Prime.” 41/ 
It’s true that if you google “Amazon CBS” these two mega companies are seriously interwoven. CBS has a streaming deal with Amazon, ViacomCBS has a big deal for its entire broadcast footprint on AWS. 42/ 

And Amazon is the number one television advertiser in the country, if not world.

CBS’ failures have been demoralizing and deeply confusing. If it was really about not wanting to report on suicides, why did they assure us so many times they knew how to handle it? 43 

How come they had confidently spotlighted suicide before, but this was different? How could these professionals have treated grieving, devastated families with such callousness? What’s clear to us is that Amazon knowingly profits from suicide. 44/ 
And proceeds as if it’s too big to be burdened by morality. If no news organization is willing to shine a light on this mass homicide, I’ll do it here on Twitter and in the courts. 45/ 

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