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Synthetic pot maker: Teen who died deserves some blame

Max Dobner 19 Aurordied after car he was driving flew off Mooseheart RoadNorth Aurora.  where it intersects with Route

Max Dobner, 19, of Aurora died after the car he was driving flew off Mooseheart Roada in North Aurora. where it intersects with Route 31, and appears to have gone airborne into a one-story house.

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Updated: December 19, 2012 11:29AM

WHEATON — An Iowa man named in a lawsuit as a manufacturer of iAroma, the synthetic marijuana product tied to the 2011 death of Max Dobner, suggests in court filings that some blame should be placed on the Aurora teen’s actions.

In August, Kevin and Brandon Seydel — their relationship is not described — were added to the wrongful death lawsuit initially filed a year ago in DuPage County by Karen Dobner, Max’s mother, against the owner of The Cigar Box at the Westfield Fox Valley mall in Aurora, which sold iAroma to the teen. The Seydels “manufactured, marketed, supplied, sold and delivered the unreasonably dangerous iAroma product,” according to court documents.

Kevin Seydel, in denying the allegations, has offered a defense that claims 19-year-old Max Dobner misused iAroma when he smoked it to become “intoxicated.”

“Max Dobner knew that smoking the iAroma product could cause a person to become intoxicated,” court documents from October show. “The iAroma product sold by (Cigar Box owner Ruby Mohsin) ... was intended to be used as an odorizer, similar to incense.”

In addition, Kevin Seydel’s filing states the iAroma “is believed to have been labeled ‘not for human consumption.’”

Kevin Seydel and Mohsin both claim Dobner’s negligence while driving was another contributing factor in his death, records show.

Attorneys for Karen Dobner have denied all claims that negligence by Max Dobner led to his death, court records show. The lawsuit claims iAroma’s packaging made no mention of synthetic drugs or provided any indication of who made it, where it was made or how it was intended to be used.

The case was in court earlier this week and is scheduled for a January hearing as attorneys work to schedule depositions, according to court records and Dobner attorney Daniel Fabbri.

Max Dobner died after he lost control of his car and struck a home near Mooseheart Road and Route 31 on June 14, 2011. Earlier that day, Dobner and a friend bought iAroma at The Cigar Box, which operated at Westfield Fox Valley Mall, and smoked it at the friend’s house.

After being dropped off at his home, Dobner called his brother to say he was suffering panic attack-like symptoms. He “rushed” out of the house, leaving doors open and unlocked, and began driving “at high rates of speed, acting as if under the influence of an illicit, mind-altering substance,” the lawsuit claims.

Dobner drove through a stop sign and hit a curb, which caused his car to go airborne and into a home. Dobner died at the scene.

An autopsy found synthetic cannabinoids, which the lawsuit claims have “no other purpose than to provide exaggerated marijuana-like effects on the human body.”

Mohsin, according to court records, identified the Seydels as being with a company called “Spaced Out Herbz.” They referred her to a distributor named Tanus LLC for iAroma purchases, according to the court records. Mohsin sold the product based on a cold call, without meeting anyone from either company or doing any investigation of iAroma, the suit states.

“Shortly after learning of Max’s death, (Mohsin) returned the iAroma products she had to Tanus and told it there was something wrong with Tanus’ product,” the suit states.

Attorneys for Brandon Seydel and Mohsin could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Brandon Seydel, who also lives in Iowa, has asked to be dropped from the lawsuit because he never conducted or solicited any business in Illinois.

“Brandon did not advertise any products, including iAroma Hypnotic, in the State of Illinois, he did not provide advice to customers in the State of Illinois, and he did not market products, including iAroma Hypnotic, in the State of Illinois,” his attorney, Richard Waris, wrote.

Fabbri said Brandon Seydel is expected to be deposed next month on the jurisdiction issue.

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