Amazon Faces Legal Complaint Over Sodium Nitrite Sale that Killed 2 Minors

Amazon is under fire and faces a lawsuit for selling suicide kits taken from the families of two teenagers who bought a deadly chemical on the company’s website and used it to commit suicide.

The parents of Kristine Jonsson, 16, from Ohio and the parents of Ethan McCarthy, 17, from West Virginia, said the retailer was complicit in the deaths of the two children by selling them sodium nitrite. This food preservative is lethal at high purity levels.

The September California court lawsuit accuses Amazon that consumers who bought the chemical would also buy proper dose scales, an anti-vomiting drug, and the release of a suicide aid manual.

“Amazon is selling a product that is deadly as cyanide,” said Carrie Goldberg and Naomi Leeds, two attorneys for the families from the company C.A. Goldberg, PLLC, in a statement. 

“This is different from them selling rope, knives, or other implements that can be used for death because there is no household use for [sodium nitrite] at the level of purity (98-99%) it sells it,” they added. 

Sodium nitrite is typically used in low concentrations for curing meats such as bacon, ham, and hot dogs. However, people who take abnormally high levels of the substance can experience difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, and worse, death.

Some sodium nitrites sold on Amazon are of exceptionally high purity, so ingesting just one teaspoon will be nearly fatal, according to Goldberg.

Earlier this year, another lawsuit filed by the same Washington state law firm alleged that Amazon sold the drug to two other people – Mikael Scoot, 27, and Tyler Muhleman, 17 – who also used the drugs as an accessory to commit suicide.

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Sodium Nitrite Lethal

Releasing a statement, Amazon sent its “deepest condolences” to the families and loved ones of individuals impacted by the suicide and stated that it made customer safety a top priority. In addition, the giant said in an interview with NPR that it demands sellers to abide by all the applicable laws and regulations. 

“Sodium nitrite is a legal and widely-available product offered by retailers to preserve foods, such as meats and fish, and for use in laboratories as a reagent. Sodium nitrite is not intended for consumption, and unfortunately, like many products, it can be misused,” said the spokesperson. 

When asked for comment, Loudwolf, the company that made the sodium nitrite the two teenage kids in the California case purchased on Amazon, did not reply. The representatives who handle the lawsuit state that Loudwolf’s sodium nitrite is now unavailable on Amazon. 

According to Goldberg and Leeds, there is not a much-known antidote to sodium nitrite that people should know about: an injection of methylene blue. Per the lawsuit, Amazon sold ad space on many sodium nitrite product pages to a methylene blue brand; however, the product listing of Loudwold’s sodium nitrite did not identify the antidote’s existence. 

The plaintiffs state that in online suicide forums, posts talk about using sodium nitrite to kill oneself. They added that Amazon has been bombarded with complaints from people cautioning the giant that consumers are using the drug to kill themselves. 

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Photo: Distractify

Opinions expressed by Voyage New York contributors are their own.