Brown, other inmates blame woes on booze - Bonner County Daily Bee: Local News

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Brown, other inmates blame woes on booze

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Posted: Thursday, January 3, 2013 10:00 am

SANDPOINT — A former Bonner County imprisoned for killing a Priest Lake man is among a group of inmates filing suit against beer, wine and liquor manufacturers for causing their alcoholism and antisocial traits.

Keith Allen Brown and four other inmates at the Idaho State Correctional Institution filed suit against eight alcohol makers and distributors in U.S. District Court on Dec. 10, 2012.

The defendants include Anheuser-Busch, Adolph Coors Co., Gallo Wineries and Miller Brewing Co. American Brands, Pepsi Cola Co. and R.J.R Nabisco, the distributors of Jim Beam bourbon, Stolichnaya vodka and José Cuervo tequila, respectively, are also named as defendants.

The plaintiffs state they are all alcoholics and allege in the complaint that the defendants knowingly manufactured and sold an addictive product without sufficiently warning consumers of the dangers of alcohol.

They further allege that because of their addiction to ethyl alcohol, “the Plaintiffs have done actions which have caused them to become incarcerated for a great portion of their lives.

Brown, 52, is serving a 15-year sentence for killing Leslie Carlton Breaw in 2007. He was originally charged with first-degree murder, although he ultimately pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and grand theft following civil mediations conducted to resolve the case.

Breaw, 47, was shot to death near his Coolin home.

Brown said in an affidavit in the federal suit that he began drinking as a juvenile in 1971 and had become so used to “having a good time” that he began using controlled substances two years later.

Brown said he has spent as many as 30 years of his life behind bars and argues that a great deal of that time is attributable to his actions while under the influence.

“Each time that I have been placed in prison, it has something to do with alcohol or drugs. I fault this to the Defendants for not giving fair and proper warning to me, and to the general public that the contents of the product they are selling are habit forming and addictive,” Brown said in the affidavit.

The suit seeks a requirement that warning labels be placed on the defendants’ products, in addition to $700 million in compensatory damages and $300,000 million on punitive damages.

Brown’s co-plaintiffs are Jeremy Joseph Brown, Cory Alan Baugh, Woodrow John Grant and Steven Todd Thompson.

According to the Idaho Statesman, Jeremy Brown is serving a 20- to 30-year sentence for a Latah County shooting that seriously injured a man, while Baugh is serving a three- to seven-year sentence for grand theft and drug convictions in Ada and Benewah counties. Thompson is imprisoned for drug and theft convictions in Twin Falls County and Grant is serving time for drug and felony battery convictions in Bannock County, the paper reported.

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  • Mr Steve posted at 5:29 pm on Wed, Jan 9, 2013.

    Mr Steve Posts: 10

    When will people finally take responsibility for their own actions and not blame anyone else. So I were overweight I should sue Hostess, Mars Frito-Lay and every other junk food manufacturer out there. give me a break!!!!!!

  • bonnerben posted at 10:19 pm on Sat, Jan 5, 2013.

    bonnerben Posts: 291

    Many people consume alcohol. Few become addicted. Of those who become addicted, few commit crimes against society. Of those who commit crimes, few commit homicides. This bunch reaches the low life status of the "filthy few." As such, the filthy few should be ignored by courts, newspapers, and taxpayers, who are paying for these filthy few to exist. Take away their computers. Give them something to do besides being jailhouse lawyers. Get them out of our lives.

  • Bill Litsinger posted at 4:57 pm on Sat, Jan 5, 2013.

    Bill Litsinger Posts: 1394

    @leechstomper - post of 9:55 am - You forgot to metion druggies, sex offenders and all other career criminals. We waste a lot of good money every year on those that do not deserve it.

  • leechstomper posted at 9:55 am on Sat, Jan 5, 2013.

    leechstomper Posts: 1592

    Alcohol has been around since the beginning of time. In some cultures, low level alcoholic beverages are consumed by even the children because it is safer than the water. The reason that alcoholics are so much of a problem now is that society feels the need to intercede and "save" them.

    The solution to people suffering from alcohol and tobacco (and drug) related health issues is to let them be. It was their choice, so let them die without public health assistance. Once identified, lock the offenders in a "leper" colony and let them abuse themselves to death and be buried in a pauper's graveyard.

  • Todd Allen posted at 9:13 am on Sat, Jan 5, 2013.

    Todd Allen Posts: 210

    I agree with you Lloyd it is US who pick up all the the health care costs. I don't think anyone is financially backing the inmates, they can file all the paperwork at our expense if they are considered indigent. I'd wager no one is behind them, just the inmates.

  • Crazy Guy posted at 2:36 am on Sat, Jan 5, 2013.

    Crazy Guy Posts: 2

    [wink][sad] Keith why did you continue after the first three paragraphs?

  • L Wallace posted at 11:10 pm on Fri, Jan 4, 2013.

    L Wallace Posts: 1395

    Todd, I am well aware that the inmates are filing the case. That was why I was wondering who was financially behind them, it is unlikely they would have the funds to hire representation to bring this case. Smokers were also placing the blame on cigarette manufacturers instead of themselves choosing to smoke. The tobacco companies losing in court might be a precedent. Yes, anyone dumb enough to smoke deserves the consequences but it is all society that picks up their health care costs that exceed the smoker's finances.

    Hi Ralph! When a drunk drives everyone is at some risk whether they are driving towards them, riding with them, or if a pedestrian is walking or crossing the street. Yes, tobacco users would be entitled to have "a right to a safe product" but wasn't that the point? Tobacco is not a safe product in health no matter how it is used? So also, liquor is not a safe product healthwise and it is easily over indulged as one's resistance to excessive drinking is reduced with each drink.

    A case can be made that alcohol changes the character of some people when they drink. My father-in-law was one such person, he would be very nice till he was drinking where he turned into a completely different & abusive character. I have heard reports on how just a little excessive drinking kills brain cells that can never be replaced. Yes, alcohol has some medicinal & baking uses. The elephant in the room is the possible revenue to states just like tobacco companies have been paying. Can government ignore such a large revenue source?

    I too do not know how far this will get, let them bring this case when they get out of incarceration.

  • Todd Allen posted at 8:24 pm on Fri, Jan 4, 2013.

    Todd Allen Posts: 210

    Lloyd the inmates themselves are the ones who are filing the case, another example of wasting the courts time. I know your playing devils advocate but the main problem here is the inmates placing blame on something other than themselves. And just because the tobacco companies lost in court does not mean the correct decision was made. Anyone who is dumb enough to smoke deserves the consequences.

  • Ralph Mavity posted at 7:31 pm on Fri, Jan 4, 2013.

    Ralph Mavity Posts: 82

    Lloyd, I figured it might just be a slow news day. In law enforcement we used to say, "Never screw up on a slow news day."

    In my opinion there are some major differences between the tobacco and alcohol cases. Arguments used in the tobacco cases involved things like Universal Malice, where everyone is at some risk. It was also argued that all smokers have a right to a safe product when used in the manner intended; all smokers were said to be at risk. Being killed without due process. Extremely harmful effects from discarded cigarette butts, stating that they were 250,000 times more harmful than cyanide gas, and on and on. I too think it will be interesting to see hows this plays out. Alcohol has some legitimate uses including baking and medicinal, and I believe this case will not be adjudicated in the Plaintiff's favor.

  • L Wallace posted at 3:38 pm on Fri, Jan 4, 2013.

    L Wallace Posts: 1395

    I agree with the general sentiments in the posts on this supposed news story. Remember winter is a slow time for "news", they gotta fill up the paper with something. For a moment let me play "devil's advocate".

    What is the difference between the tobacco and alchol issue? Both are addictive and both cause major health problem costs to society. Tobacco and liquor are both legal products that can be chosen or refused. Tobacco companies have already lost in court, why would not the same arguments be brought in this alchol case? I am not so sure that this case will be thrown out. I would be interested in who is behind this or providing the legal services for these inmates or are they just being advised? "Idle hands are the devils workshop", put these guys to hard labor.

    One of the conditions for being released on probation should be taking responsibility for the cause of their conviction. Blame something or someone else and the sentence has not been long enough to convince the inmate of their wrong doing, this sets up the conditions for a repeat. For me, failure of an inmate to take responsibility for their actions would be the determining factor for no release on probation. When responsibility is taken and the incarceration time fulfilled then talk to me about probation.

  • Todd Allen posted at 12:21 pm on Fri, Jan 4, 2013.

    Todd Allen Posts: 210

    @Bill, I remember the chocolate one too. You are right on it must be tough for those who can't accept personal responsibility. Luckily I learned long ago life is much more fulfilling if you are accountable and take responsibility for your choices. I'm so tired of the blame, blame, blame. Even if life has thrown you some curves learn for it and move on.

  • Luv83864 posted at 11:23 am on Fri, Jan 4, 2013.

    Luv83864 Posts: 702

    The main problem is Mr. Brown and of the others will be released into our communities again. This moral of thinking and blaming is the first sign of addiction and problems, DENIAL and BLAME. Take responsibility or they can not possibly learn, especially change. What happens in 15 years when liquor stores still exist and Mr Brown receives his check from the penitentiary to be released? He killed somebody and stole a lot of money, fled and got 15 years, barely a slap on the hand. What's next?

  • Luv83864 posted at 11:17 am on Fri, Jan 4, 2013.

    Luv83864 Posts: 702

    I re-read the article and I feel sick to my stomach that he is pushing the blame of his troubled life onto alcohol. Alcohol can cause many negative consequences, but it is still a decision to consume the alcohol. This is like saying cookies can cause people to be addicted to food and get over weight. It would be totally ludicrous. Why do they think Prohibition happened? It is of my hopes that Mr. brown gets the psychiatric/addiction therapy help he may need before he is released back into our society. Again at at point, he will be free to choose if he wants to consume alcohol and drugs. If he doesn't, he shouldn't have any more problems according to him. I guess we will see.

  • Luv83864 posted at 11:07 am on Fri, Jan 4, 2013.

    Luv83864 Posts: 702

    Ralph Mavity is correct this was a waste of time and space IMO. Why give this press and attention? It's total nonsense and putting the blame onto a drug that no one forced any of them to take. There are warnings in the label. No one shoved the drug (alcohol) down their throats, no one put a gun in their hands. I think their are few people who would agree with such nonsense and its shouldn't be acknowledged, especially in the local newspaper. Brown has got a lot of space in this newspaper. Do they realize that every lawyer working for these companies will be laughing their pants off when they see this? It's just totally senseless and I can't believe what I've read. If you don't like what you act like on drugs (alcohol) don't take them, plenty of people don't drink caffeine because they don't like how they feel, I don't drink because I don't like how I feel, I don't smoke cigarettes because it made me sick when I was young however i do drink caffiene. People who choose to use substances take responsibility, again the substance didn't make you commit battery, or for Pete sakes murder someone.
    Who pays for this? The supplies needed to file this and how did all these inmates get together? They are housed together?

  • MichaelN posted at 10:05 am on Fri, Jan 4, 2013.

    MichaelN Posts: 502

    Good advice SagleDad. I wish more parents would teach these valuable lessons.

  • SagleDad posted at 11:30 pm on Thu, Jan 3, 2013.

    SagleDad Posts: 36

    Reckless behavior has been killing our ancestors for tens of thousands of years. Nothing has changed. The world hasn't enough money to put a warning tag on every single dangerous thing out there. Listen in school and to your elders, learn from your own and from others' mistakes, stay out of trouble, and you'll be fine. And for God's sake don't be like Keith Allen Brown!

  • Bill Litsinger posted at 10:51 pm on Thu, Jan 3, 2013.

    Bill Litsinger Posts: 1394

    I remember about 20 years ago a group of fat people tried to sue the chocolate industry for marketing a product that made them obese. It didn't go very far in the system because of its base premise but it got some real tubbies some publicity and proves that almost anything can be abused and become a real hazard to a person's health and freedom.

    For those of you that can't accept personal responsibility for your own actions life can be tough.

  • Ralph Mavity posted at 9:34 pm on Thu, Jan 3, 2013.

    Ralph Mavity Posts: 82

    Keith, it's my personal opinion that this article is a complete waste of space in your paper. If it is going to be printed at least proof-read it first. The first sentence would be a good place to start. Also, $300,000 million???

    I am sure the Defendants are quaking in their respective boots. At least they can afford their legal fees. This case will most likely be dismissed. The Plaintiff's can't pay the fees even if ordered to do so.

    I agree with the other posters on the lack of responsibility issue. I also agree with Bill Litzsinger's thoughts.

    George77, alcohol by itself does nothing. Neither do guns and any number of other things. If people didn't use them in a manner they were never intended to be used they would cause no harm. Misuse of even generally safe items can be dangerous.

  • wilson posted at 5:47 pm on Thu, Jan 3, 2013.

    wilson Posts: 1133

    Sooooo - it would only follow logic that all auto companies should be responsible for everyones' actions who drive their cars? Where would it end? The one thing that keeps me from doing really stupid things is the feared consequences - I think all mature and thinking people are guided by the same fear - that is the only thing that works - those who do not fear the consequences of their actions should be put away on a working farm somewhere in the middle of nowhere - implanted with a GPS that will detonate if they wander too far - just think - no more mass killings, etc.

  • Bill Litsinger posted at 5:30 pm on Thu, Jan 3, 2013.

    Bill Litsinger Posts: 1394

    About 5 years ago, Keith Allen Brown appeared as a guest on my radio program. At that time he was occupying a suite at the local gray bar hotel. He did a call-in and never metioned being under the influence when he shot and killed Leslie Breaw. On my program he claimed self defense.

    He is a long time career criminal with several felony convictions. It seems like many of the social, emotional, genetic and mental defects in our society have a hard time accepting responsibility for their own actions. I don't care if all of these misfits were impaired when they acted out, they are not fit to be in a civilized society.

    They are behind bars where they belong.

    However, it would not bother me if alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs were no longer available to the public. Drugs and alcohol do much more damage to our society than guns do.

  • Tom Kelly posted at 5:23 pm on Thu, Jan 3, 2013.

    Tom Kelly Posts: 379

    George, you are falling into the trap, blame liquor companies, blame the product, blame everything but the irresponsible behavior of people. Many people use dangerous products and machines in a safe manner everyday. If I went out tomorrow and did something stupid with my chain saw or lawn mower would you advocate my being able to sue the chainsaw company or the tractor company. If you think alcohol is safe and has no potential dangers than you are just plain stupid. Any acts taken after you have had too much to drink are still your acts, including being foolish with and about alcohol.

  • George77 posted at 5:05 pm on Thu, Jan 3, 2013.

    George77 Posts: 13

    While I agree that individuals should take responsibility for their actions, I firmly believe that it is time for all of the liquor companies to take responsibility for what their products do and have done to our society. More people were killed in DUI accidents in 2012 than were killed by guns. No matter how you look at it I'll call it is a poison and alcohol by itself can kill. Just because the companies doctorate up with flavors does not excuse them for putting a product on the market and letting people think that it is safe to drink in any moderation. I firmly believe that on every bottle or can or where alcohol is served there should be posted warnings of what alcohol can do. My brother in law died just recently from alcohol poisoning. Alcoholic drinks attack the liver and can bring about death. It is an ugly thing to see. So for the sake of our society, not for the sake of the criminals, I hope they win. If they do they should not receive any of the settlement but it should go to research or some other well-meaning agency.

  • Tom Kelly posted at 12:14 pm on Thu, Jan 3, 2013.

    Tom Kelly Posts: 379

    Absolutely disgusting! Makes me so mad I can't see. Never any responsibility for anything, I am sure he and the other clowns will come up with a list of disorders that removes any personal accountability for our actions from any situation. Put them in a work program washing whiskey bottles and beer cans for recycling.

  • wilson posted at 11:54 am on Thu, Jan 3, 2013.

    wilson Posts: 1133

    I wonder what dirt bag lawyer is representing these misfits? Are the taxpayers supplying the lawyer? This is exactly what is wrong with our so-called judicial system - problem should have been solved with a 22 cent bullet_

  • Bill Litsinger posted at 11:39 am on Thu, Jan 3, 2013.

    Bill Litsinger Posts: 1394

    I believe the blogs of 10:23 am and 11:05 am hit the nail on the head.

  • Todd Allen posted at 11:05 am on Thu, Jan 3, 2013.

    Todd Allen Posts: 210

    Michael you nailed it!! Zero responsibility, let's blame whomever we can for our actions. It makes me sick to my stomache and of course there he is on the front page. And he only received 15 years while his victim received a death sentence!! Many accountable individuals see they have a problem and do something about it, not this piece of garbage.

  • MichaelN posted at 10:23 am on Thu, Jan 3, 2013.

    MichaelN Posts: 502

    Here is a problem I see with our society. This man is a dirt bag who won't take responsibility for himself and his actions. To reward him, the media gives him front page ink and the courts will go even further by giving him time and tax payer money. This kind of garbage should not even get a blink from our media or our Judicial System. What a freaking joke and making a mockery of all of us.

    Just my two cents.