Family of young nurse, suburban mom of 4 who died from totally legal herbal substance wins $11M suit

A Florida woman’s family has been awarded $11 million in a wrongful death lawsuit after she died from taking an herbal supplement called kratom.

Krystal Talavera, 39, was a nurse and the mother of four. She reportedly took the substance while prepping breakfast on Father’s Day in 2021. The mother lost consciousness at her Boynton Beach home and passed away after taking the herbal product “Space Dust” she bought from The Kratom Distro.

The derivative from the kratom plant is not regulated by the FDA. It can be used for withdrawal systems and is considered a natural high. Many consider it a life-saver compared to Big Pharma drugs.

Ironically, you can also become addicted to it as well according to experts. Some take it to relax. In higher doses, those who take kratom report opioid-like sedative effects and psychotic symptoms, according to American Addiction Centers.

Biaggio Vultaggio, who is the father of Talavera’s youngest son, found her face down at home beside her coffee mug which evidently contained the “Space Dust,” according to the New York Post.

The Daily Mail reported that she was found next to her one-year-old son and an open bag of the legal substance.

The nurse was rushed to a hospital but died of “acute mitragynine intoxication,” a high induced by kratom, according to the Palm Beach County Coroner’s office.

“This $11 million dollar judgment should be a wakeup call to the kratom industry about this dangerous and unregulated substance,” Talavera’s lawyer Tamara Williams asserted in a statement that was released last week. “There are families across the country who know firsthand that kratom is addictive and can be deadly.”

The lawsuit was filed by Devin Filippelli, Talavera’s oldest son, against The Kratom Distro and distributor Grow LLC. It alleged that the supplements his mother took produced “opioid-like effects” that caused “respiratory failure.”

(Video Credit: WXYZ-TV Detroit | Channel 7)

The day before she died, Filippelli was celebrating his high school graduation with her and his acceptance to the University of Florida.

Talavera was introduced to kratom products years before her death by a friend, according to her son. She believed they were “safe and natural dietary supplements,” the lawsuit contended.

Kratom products are easy to find in the US. Approximately 1.7 million Americans took the substance in 2021, according to the FDA. The agency noted in 2019 that “significant levels” of lead and nickel could be found in kratom products with the potential of causing severe metal poisoning if consumed over a long span of time.

(Video Credit: Denver7)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that between July 2016 and December 2017, there were approximately 153 overdose deaths connected to kratom.

Palm Beach Circuit Judge Donald Middlebrooks was sympathetic to the grief of Talavera’s family. The judge ruled on July 27 that Grow LLC should pay her family $11,642,895 in damages.

The breakdown of the settlement totaled $4,642,895.70 for the estate of Talavera, $1 million for Filippelli, and $2 million for each of her other three children.

“There is of course no amount of money that will make up for the pain and suffering that Ms. Talavera’s children are enduring because of their mother’s death. The law nonetheless recognizes that the defendant must pay something, however inadequate,” the judge remarked.

“I again emphasize that no award of damages will ever be adequate and that this decision reflects nothing more than an adherence to prior cases,” Middlebrooks said in his ruling, according to the New York Post.

Talavera worked as a registered nurse at Trustbridge Hospice Care in West Palm Beach and had just been given a promotion according to the Daily Mail.

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