This week’s case asks the question: Can a drug addict sue a drug dealer for the wretched life they are left with?
With that question, other powerful questions arise – philosophical, moral, spiritual. Should someone be able to blame others for choices they have made? Does just making the decision to use an illegal substance disqualify a person from turning to the law to make things right? Let’s get to the case.
Consuelo Marie Barbetta – a pot smoker addicted for 20 years; the Plaintiff in this lawsuit.
Jimmy Cournoyer – the convicted drug-dealer Defendant sued by Consuelo.
Before we get into the actual case, we need a little background on Jimmy the drug dealer who found himself sued in federal court in Brooklyn by an avid user of product that he sold to the public.
It was the winter of 2007, when the scorned ex-girlfriend of a pot dealer in Queens stomped her high heels as she purposefully marched into the DEA’s Long Island office with her child, and proceeded to nobly and happily report that her ex, the father of the child, was selling marijuana. And that he was a major player. The DEA believed her, grabbed the ex, and turned him into an informant leading them to the infamous Jimmy Cournoyer, an international criminal and the biggest marijuana dealer in New York City history.
Jimmy was arrested and then indicted by a grand jury on January 20, 2012. A month later, he tried to flee to Cancun, but an Interpol red alert went out for his capture, and he was apprehended by Mexican police. With ever-mounting evidence amassing against him, Jimmy pled guilty days before his trial was scheduled to begin in May of 2013.
Consuelo sued Jimmy in 2020, under New York’s Drug Dealer Liability Act.
TESTIMONY OF CONSUELO
Q. How long have you been addicted to marijuana?
A. I started smoking in high school and continued doing so during my time in college. So more than 25 years. Easy.
Q. Who was the person that sold you the marijuana?
A. Some guy with a nickname, you know, a street name. He lived only a few minutes away from me.
Q. Where is he now?
A. No idea. Dead maybe? Jail? Who knows. He just kind of disappeared.
Q. Can you tell us what the time period was when you were buying marijuana from this unidentified drug dealer?
A. Between 2008 and 2015, I bought weed from this same guy.
Q. How much?
A. At $20 per gram, sometimes several times a day.
Q. How much do you estimate that your habit cost you per year?
A. Up to $75,000 per year, I would say to be honest.
Q. And have you been able to come up with an estimate of how many hours of your life you have been under the influence of marijuana?
A. I have. I would say at least 30,000 hours of my life.
Q. Now you told us that in 2015, you stopped purchasing marijuana from your long-time dealer. Did you stop using marijuana at that time?
A. No. I was soon after contacted on Facebook by another dealer who shared a mutual connection with me.
Q. And how long did your relationship with the second dealer continue?
A. That continued on for about three years.
Q. Who was the second dealer that sold you the marijuana?
A. Another guy with a nickname.
Q. Where is he now?
A. Couldn’t tell you. He just disappeared from Facebook at some time in 2018.
Q. What did you do then?
A. Rehab. I sought rehabilitative treatment for my drug use. At the facility they encouraged me to file a report, a complaint, with the police and complaints with both the Department of Justice and a district attorney’s office.
Q. Was there an investigation?
A. No one told me anything about that and I haven’t heard from any of them since I filed the reports.
Q. What are the results of your protracted drug use to you?
A. Well, I wasted a lot of time and my productivity, physical health, and financial stability have all greatly diminished.
CROSS-EXAMINATION OF CONSUELO
Q. You did not sue either of the two dealers that you mentioned earlier?
A. No, I don’t know where they are?
Q. Jimmy never sold you anything directly, did he?
A. Not directly.
Q. Yet, you named Jimmy in this law suit?
A. Look, I can read. Jimmy has a reputation as being the biggest pot dealer in New York City history. In fact, that was the title of the New York Times article that I cited in the Complaint. So you can read it for yourself.
TESTIMONY OF JIMMY – THE CONVICTED DEALER
Q. Sir, you pled guilty in 2013 to charges arising out of the operation of a highly sophisticated marijuana sales operation unprecedented in scale, correct?
A. Yes. That is correct.
Q. You were responsible for the smuggling of over $1 billion worth of narcotics and weapons, including more than 220,462 pounds of marijuana, over 182 pounds of cocaine and tens of thousands of MDMA pills, correct?
A. I do not know the exact numbers, but, yeah.
Q. At the time of your arrest, you drove, and owned, a limited-edition Bugatti Veyron worth $2 million, right?
A. Not anymore…But, yeah. Real creampuff, you know?
Q. And it is also true that on your Blackberry that was seized during one of the arrests, there were texts saying that you kept a $2 million slush fund to pay for the murder of anyone who crossed you, right?
A. There were texts that said that, but it was just talk.
QUESTIONING OF JIMMY BY HIS LAWYER
Q. Who is Consuelo?
A. I have no idea. I never met her, never spoke to her, never wrote to her, I swear to God.
Q. Are you familiar with the area where Consuelo lives?
Q. Did any of the product that your organization was involved with in moving end up in that neighborhood?
A. No way. That was not my area and I do not know any dealers that lived in that area; and, I do not know of anyone who did business on Facebook. And if I did find out anyone was moving anything through social media they would have heard it from me. Consuelo: Don’t know you, don’t want to. Sorry.
CLOSING ARGUMENTS BY CONSUELO
Your Honor, New York’s Drug Dealer Liability Act permits recovery of damages by a former drug user against a person who participated in the chain of distribution of an illegal drug that was actually used by the individual drug user. The odds are very high that Jimmy was at the top of that chain.
Under the Drug Dealer Act, a party may recover economic damages, including for rehabilitation, treatment, and medical expenses, as well as for loss of economic potential and loss of productivity.
Although marijuana is increasingly legalized throughout the nation, Jimmy’s syndicate was a violent one that enriched other criminal syndicates. There has been enough suffering. Judgment should be for the Plaintiff.
CLOSING ARGUMENTS BY JIMMY
Your Honor, New York’s Drug Dealer Liability Act permits recovery of damages by a former drug user against a person who KNOWINGLY participated in the chain of distribution of a drug ACTUALLY USED by the drug user. Consuelo left out the word knowingly. For good reason. Consuelo had to show that Jimmy had knowledge that the pot his operation was distributing had anything to do with what ended up in Consuelo’s hands for her use. That was never done. In fact, Your Honor, Consuelo never even alleged a single fact that would tend to show, or even hint at, the possibility that Jimmy played a part in the supplying of any marijuana to Consuelo. This case should be dismissed.
The only people identified in the complaint as playing a role in the chain of distribution of illegal drugs consumed by Consuelo are the two drug dealers who sold marijuana to her between 2008 and 2018. BUT THEY ARE NOT DEFENDANTS IN THIS ACTION. Because Consuelo alleges no discernable connection between her drug purchases and Jimmy’s conduct, the Complaint must be DISMISSED.
Very simply, plaintiff may not sue someone who has nothing to do with the harms she suffered.
And so it goes.
Consuelo loses this one battle
Against an enterprise
That has victimized
So many. Just money.
But for all the bitten
(weed, oxy, geebs, molly)
A bitter battle is fiercely fought
Every day, every hour, in nearly every thought,
That’s just the way it is.Joseph D. Nohavicka
As wars come and go, my soldier stays eternal.Tupac Shakur