Inmates Sue Beer, Wine Cos. for $1B

ABC News
Inmates Sue Beer, Wine Cos. for $1B
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Inmates Sue Beer, Wine Cos. for $1B (ABC News)

Five Idaho inmates are blaming alcohol for the crimes that put them in prison and are suing some of the nation's top liquor and wine companies for $1 billion.

Keith Allen Brown, Steven Thompson, Woodrow Grant, Cory Baugh and Jeremy Brown all claim that alcohol led them to their crimes and they should have been warned of the beverages' addictive nature.

"If I was not an alcoholic, the shooting would never have happened," Jeremy Brown said in his affidavit. Brown, 34, is serving a 20- to 30-year sentence for a 2001 shooting that seriously injured a man.

The plaintiffs' crimes range from manslaughter to grand theft. They are currently serving time at Idaho's Kuna facility.

Their lawsuit, filed in Boise's U.S. District Court last month, targets eight defendants, including Anheuser-Busch, Coors, Miller Brewing and the owner of Jim Beam whiskey, American Brands. The inmates claim the companies are responsible for their crimes and should have put warning labels on their products.

"I have spent a great deal of that time in prison because of situations that have arose because of people being drunk, or because of situations in which alcohol played a major role," Jeremy Brown said in his affidavit. "At no time in my life, prior to me becoming an alcoholic, was I ever informed that alcohol was habit forming and addictive."

Keith Brown is serving a 15-year prison sentence after shooting a man to death five years ago. Baugh and Thompson are both serving 3 to 7-years for grand theft and drug convictions. And Grant is serving up to 7-years for drug and aggravated battery convictions.

All five men share the same story about booze.

"I fear the day I am released from prison," Grant, 27, said in his affidavit. "I do not know if I can be a productive member of society and still control the desires and craving to use alcohol."

The inmates do not have an attorney, but Boise attorney Joe Filicetti told ABC News affiliate KIVI that alcohol addiction and its side effects are pretty common knowledge.

"If you put these guys through depositions and you ask them 'What do you know about alcohol?' I think it's pretty common knowledge that it's addictive," Filicetti told KIVI. "It's well known to be addictive. It's well known to be something that causes you to reduce your inhibitions and to do things you otherwise wouldn't do."

The beer and wine companies have not responded to ABC News for comment.

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