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.