On November 30, 2022, the jury in CARLA GATLIN, et al. vs DO LAB INC, et al. found in favor of the plaintiffs on the issues of medical responsibility and damages related to the death of a 20-year old woman at the 2017 Lightning in a Bottle music festival.
The defendants, Do Lab and Richard Gottlieb dba RGX Medical, were insured to provide medical services at the festival and separately reached a settlement last year with the plaintiffs. The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a nonprofit organization, provided volunteer peer support services but was excluded from the settlement.
The jury found Do Lab and Richard Gottlieb dba RGX Medical collectively hold 75% of the liability in the death; 25% of the liability was assigned to MAPS. Despite the presence of medical staff who were contracted to address medical emergencies, MAPS has been ordered to pay 25% of the $4 million in damages awarded. MAPS’ counsel, leadership, and Board of Directors believe there are adequate grounds to appeal the decision. In the coming days, MAPS will file post-verdict motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and a new trial for not properly instructing the jury that certain testimony should not have been allowed.
Every day and despite laws against it, millions of people around the world will use drugs. At music festival environments in particular, they may use psychedelics and have challenging experiences. Rather than ignoring this fact, we as a community must acknowledge and mitigate the risks by providing harm reduction services: the education, services, and resources that can ease difficult experiences, give people tools to prevent taking adulterated drugs, and prevent overdose.
MAPS recognizes that the result of this trial may now engender a chilling effect for the organizations that offer harm reduction services. This trial must be a reminder that, collectively, we as a global community must continue to support harm reduction services while fighting the policies that inhibit safety for people who use drugs. It’s been well documented by the Centers for Disease Control that accidental drug overdoses have now become the leading cause of death in the U.S. for those under the age of 50. But research from as far back as 2013 from the National Institute of Health documents that increasing community access to Naloxone can prevent death from overdose. Drug checking resources can also help prevent accidental overdose and health consequences from adulterated substances, yet there are still states in the US that criminalize the possession or use of testing kits that could save lives.
MAPS is committed to the evidence-based principles that form the foundation of ethical harm reduction and, through our support of community-based harm reduction efforts, we are specifically committed to providing peer support through challenging psychedelic experiences. We hope that communities will continue to create more comprehensive educational tools and services to avoid preventable deaths, and address the legal and policy barriers that exist to diminish access to these services.Betty Aldworth, Director of Communications, MAPS
Founded in 1986, MAPS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana. MAPS is sponsoring the most advanced psychedelic therapy research in the world: Phase 3 clinical trials of MDMA-assisted therapy for PTSD. Since MAPS was founded, philanthropic donors and grantors have given more than $130 million for psychedelic and marijuana research and education. MAPS has earned both the Guidestar Platinum Seal of Transparency and a 4-Star Rating from Charity Navigator.