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$24 Million Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed After Portland Man Dies in Cannabis Extraction Accident

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Family Pursues $24 Million in Wrongful Death Lawsuit After Fatal Cannabis Extraction Incident in Portland

In the heart of Portland, Oregon, a tragic incident unfolded that underscores the potential dangers associated with the cannabis extraction industry. Furious Eldridge, a 24-year-old contractor, lost his life due to a catastrophic explosion caused by a malfunctioning butane hash oil extraction machine. This tragic event has led to a significant legal battle, with Eldridge’s mother, Jessica Smith, filing a $24 million wrongful death lawsuit against multiple parties, including the company owner and the warehouse landlords. This lawsuit highlights the critical issues of workplace safety and corporate responsibility in high-risk industries.

As experienced wrongful death lawyers, we understand the profound impact such tragedies have on the families involved. This blog post will explore the details of this case, the legal challenges it presents, and the implications for safety regulations in the cannabis extraction sector.

Case Overview

The life of 24-year-old Furious Eldridge came to a tragic end following an explosion caused by a butane hash oil extraction machine. Eldridge was working as a contractor, helping to assemble the system in a White City warehouse when the accident occurred. According to the wrongful death lawsuit filed by his mother, Jessica Smith, a butane leak from the improperly installed system ignited, causing the devastating explosion.

The lawsuit alleges that the owner of Primordial Mountain LLC, Joseph Donahue, along with the landlords of the White City warehouse, failed in their duty to ensure a safe working environment. It claims that Donahue instructed Eldridge to re-enter the hazardous area to address the leak, leading directly to the fatal incident. Following the explosion, Eldridge suffered severe burns and was airlifted to Oregon Health & Science University Hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries four days later.

In response to her son’s death, Jessica Smith is seeking $24 million in damages, highlighting the profound loss and impact on Eldridge’s young family, including a daughter who now resides in New Mexico. The case also touches on broader issues of safety and regulation in the cannabis extraction industry, a sector known for its risks but lacking in consistent safety oversight.


Key Aspects Of The Case

1. Safety and Regulatory Compliance: This wrongful death lawsuit underscores critical concerns regarding safety protocols and regulatory compliance within the cannabis extraction industry. The incident highlights potential gaps in safety measures and the enforcement of regulations designed to protect workers.

2. Employer Liability: The lawsuit claims that Joseph Donahue, the owner of the company, was directly responsible for the unsafe conditions that led to the explosion. It alleges that Donahue’s failure to properly manage and monitor the assembly and operation of the extraction system was a significant factor in the accident.

3. Legal Responsibilities of Landlords: Additionally, the landlords of the warehouse are implicated for their part in allowing the operation to be conducted on their property without adequate safety checks. This aspect of the case examines the extent of liability that property owners hold in ensuring that their premises are used in a manner that safeguards the well-being of all occupants.

4. Impact on Surviving Family Members: The lawsuit also addresses the impact of Eldridge’s death on his family, particularly his young daughter who has been deprived of her father’s support and companionship. This tragic loss extends beyond immediate emotional distress, affecting the long-term financial and psychological well-being of his dependents.

5. Compensation for Damages: The demand for $24 million in damages includes considerations for medical costs, funeral expenses, lost future earnings, pain and suffering, and loss of companionship. The size of the claim reflects both the economic and non-economic impacts of Eldridge’s untimely death.

These key aspects form the foundation of the wrongful death lawsuit, highlighting the complex interplay of legal, ethical, and emotional issues that such cases often entail.

Legal Challenges and Considerations

Proving Negligence: A central challenge in this wrongful death lawsuit is proving that Joseph Donahue and the warehouse landlords were negligent. The plaintiff must demonstrate that they failed to meet the legal standards of care expected in operating and managing a potentially hazardous business like cannabis extraction. Establishing clear causation between their negligence and the accident is crucial.

Demonstrating Duty of Care: The lawsuit must outline the specific duties owed by the defendants to Furious Eldridge as a contractor working on their premises. This includes ensuring that all equipment used met safety standards and that adequate training and emergency procedures were in place.

Legal Liability of Landlords: Addressing the liability of the landlords involves showing that they had knowledge of, or should have reasonably known about, the activities taking place on their property and the inherent risks involved. The legal principle of ‘premises liability’ may come into play, which holds property owners responsible for accidents that occur on their property due to unsafe conditions.

Complexities of Industry Regulations: The cannabis extraction industry operates under a complex framework of local and federal regulations. The lawsuit may need to delve into whether all regulatory requirements were met and how any failures to comply contributed to the unsafe conditions leading to Eldridge’s death.

Impact of Criminal Convictions: Joseph Donahue’s conviction for criminal negligent homicide and arson related to the incident adds a significant dimension to the civil case. While the criminal conviction supports claims of negligence, the civil lawsuit must independently establish liability for wrongful death under civil law standards.

Settlement Considerations: Given the complexities and potential public relations issues for the defendants, there may be considerations for a settlement to avoid a prolonged public trial. Negotiating a settlement that adequately compensates the family while considering the evidence and potential jury reactions is a strategic aspect of the case.

These challenges highlight the legal intricacies involved in wrongful death lawsuits, especially those occurring within specialized industries with significant operational hazards.

If you or someone you know has been affected by a similar incident, it’s essential to understand that you have legal rights that can be protected and enforced. In the tragic event of a wrongful death, especially one involving complex industrial environments like cannabis extraction, obtaining skilled legal representation is crucial. Our law firm specializes in handling wrongful death cases with the diligence and expertise required to navigate the challenging aspects of these claims.

Our experienced attorneys are dedicated to ensuring that justice is served and that families receive the compensation they deserve for their loss. We understand the emotional and financial toll that such tragedies can impose on the families left behind, and we are here to provide both legal support and compassionate guidance through these difficult times.

Don’t face this challenge alone. Contact us today to discuss your case in a confidential setting. We will help you understand your options and work tirelessly to represent your interests, aiming to achieve the best possible outcome for your situation. Let us help you secure not only the compensation you deserve but also the peace of mind that comes with knowing justice has been pursued.


What is a wrongful death lawsuit? A wrongful death lawsuit is a legal action brought when someone dies as a result of the negligence or misconduct of another person or entity. It seeks compensation for the survivors’ loss, such as funeral expenses, lost future income, and loss of companionship.

Who can file a wrongful death claim? Typically, immediate family members such as spouses, children, or parents of unmarried children can file a wrongful death claim. In some cases, other relatives or financial dependents may also be eligible to file.

What needs to be proven in a wrongful death case? To succeed in a wrongful death case, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant had a duty of care to the deceased, that they breached this duty through negligence or wrongdoing, that this breach directly caused the death, and that damages resulted from the death.

How long do I have to file a wrongful death lawsuit? The statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit varies by state but generally ranges from one to three years from the date of the death. It’s important to consult with an attorney promptly to ensure your claim is filed within the legal timeframe.

Can I claim damages for emotional distress in a wrongful death lawsuit? Yes, in many wrongful death lawsuits, family members can claim damages for the emotional distress and mental anguish caused by the loss of their loved one. These are considered non-economic damages and can vary significantly in amount.

What if the person responsible for the death has been criminally charged? The existence of criminal charges can influence a wrongful death case but does not replace it. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action, which can proceed independently of criminal proceedings and requires a lower standard of proof. Compensation can still be sought through civil courts regardless of the outcome of criminal charges.


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Don’t navigate the aftermath of a wrongful death case alone. Let the Scranton Law Firm stand by your side. With over 50 years of experience as personal injury lawyers, we’ve helped thousands recover from their losses. If you or a loved one are affected by a wrongful death due to negligence or premises liability don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Secure your rights and seek the justice you deserve. Looking for the best wrongful death lawyers near me –Look no further than The Scranton Law Firm, your trusted ally in these challenging times. Call 800-707-0707 now.