Five inmates at the Idaho State Correctional Institution are suing national beer and wine companies for $1 billion, claiming that alcohol was responsible for their crimes, the Associated Press reports. The civil suit alleges that they were not sufficiently warned about alcohol's addictive properties.
The inmates, who do not yet have an attorney, drafted the litigation themselves.
Keith Allan Brown, who pleaded guilty in 2010 to voluntary manslaughter, filed the suit on Dec. 10, according to the Kansas City Star. The 52-year-old wrote that over the course of his life, he has spent almost 30 years in prison, and that alcohol has "played a major role" in most of the situations that landed him there.
“At no time in my life," the suit states, "prior to me becoming an alcoholic, was I ever informed that alcohol was habit forming and addictive.”
Brown's co-plaintiffs are Jeremy Joseph Brown, Cory Alan Baugh, Woodrow John Grant and Steven Todd Thompson as co-plaintiffs.
Jeremy Joseph Brown, 34, is serving a 20-30 year sentence for a 2001 shooting that left his victim seriously injured. In his affidavit, he claims he never would have started drinking had he known alcohol was habit-forming. He was drunk when the shooting occurred, his affidavit states, and if he had not been an alcoholic, it "never would have happened."
Baugh, also 34, and Thompson, 44, are both serving 3-7 years for grand theft and drug convictions, ABC news reports. Grant is serving up to 7 years for drug and aggravated battery convictions.
Grant wrote that he "fears the day" of his release, because he does not know if he will be able to "control the desires and craving to use alcohol."
The companies targeted by the lawsuit are Miller Brewing Company, Anheuser-Busch Co., Adolph Coors Co., Brown-Furman Co., American Brands Inc., Pepsi-Cola, RJR Nabisco, Gallo's Winery, Ernest Gallo and Julio Gallo. None of them have yet responded to the suit.
Boise attorney Joe Filicetti points out that despite the inmates' claims, the addictive properties of alcohol aren't exactly a secret.
"I think it's pretty common knowledge that it's addictive," he told KIVI. "It's well known to be something that causes you to reduce your inhibitions and to do things you otherwise wouldn't do."