HAMLIN -- A Ranger man is accusing three businesses of marketing a product known as "bath salts" and sold as a "legal drug," and other plaintiffs might join his product liability and personal injury suit.
Jason Vance filed the complaint May 11 in Lincoln Circuit Court. He is represented by attorneys Ronald G. Salmons, Jeffrey S. Bowen and Robby N. Long.
In the complaint, Vance details six alleged counts.
The defendants are Harts businesses K&B Quick Stop Inc., LT Jones Tobacco Plus and Smokin' Joes Arcade LLC of Barboursville.
"Products known as 'fake cocaine,' 'synthetic cocaine' or 'bath salts'... contain mephedrone, also known as 4-methylmethcathinone (4-MMC), or 3-methylephedrone, which is a synthetic stimulant and entactogen drug of the amphetamine and cathinone classes."
According to the complaint, Vance purchased such drugs from the defendants or their agents last January to April, and he lists some 20 afflictions attributable to "bath salts."
"The defendants misled the plaintiff," Vance's complaint states, "by marketing the products in a way that led the plaintiff to believe the products were less harmful than other banned substances..."
"Bath salts" and another drug, K2, have recently been banned in West Virginia. Other states, including Florida and New York, have banned the drugs.
"Bath salts" mimics the effects of cocaine, while K2 is an incense or potpourri with a chemical makeup similar to marijuana.
Though banned in the state, some West Virginia communities are going even further in their fight against the new wave of drugs.
In South Charleston, for example, those who possess or sell the drugs can now face jail time and hundreds in fines.
Earlier this month, the city council passed two ordinances making both drugs illegal.
Authorities say "bath salts," in particular, can lead to delusions, paranoia and, in some cases, death.
Vance seeks injunctive relief ordering the defendants, their employees and agents to stop selling or providing the products mentioned. He also seeks compensatory and punitive damages, pre-judgment interest and litigation costs.
Earlier this month, K&B Quick Stop and LT Jones answered the complaint.
Robert P. Martin, a partner at Bailey & Wyant PLLC in Charleston, is representing K&B Quick Stop in the case.
Martin told the West Virginia Record on Monday that at the time the "bath salts" were allegedly sold, there were no rules or regulations banning them and they probably could be found on the store's shelf.
Martin could not say if those specific products Vance allegedly bought from the store were now banned.
Vance's attorney, Salmons, could not immediately be reached.
The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Jay M. Hoke.
Lincoln Circuit Court case number: 11-C-32
Jessica Karmasek contributed to this report.