Mother of Portland Man Killed by Cannabis Extraction Machine Files $24 Million Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Furious Eldridge died after a butane hash oil extraction machine in a rickety White City, Ore., warehouse exploded.

Cannabis_Butane_Honey_Oil Cannabis butane honey oil (Wikimedia Commons)

The mother of a Portland man killed in a White City, Ore., warehouse explosion after a butane hash oil extraction machine malfunctioned is suing the owner of the company, as well as the landlords of the warehouse, for $24 million in Multnomah County Circuit Court.

Furious Eldridge, 24, was helping assemble a butane hash oil extraction system in Southern Oregon in 2021 when, according to the lawsuit, butane leaked out from the system and caused an explosion that left Eldridge severely burned. After being Life Flighted to Oregon Health & Science University Hospital in Portland, Eldridge died from his burns.

His mother, Jessica Smith, is suing the owner of the company that hired Eldridge as a contractor to set up the butane hash oil extraction system, which law enforcement said at the time was set up illegally. One of the defendants, Joseph Donahue, 38, was the owner of a company, Primordial Mountain LLC, which, according to business filings, sold “artisanal body care and gourmet products that are preventive, integrative, holistic, and organic.”

The lawsuit says Donahue, Eldridge and others were assembling the BHO system when they spotted the leak. Everyone evacuated, but the lawsuit alleges Donahue then instructed Eldridge to accompany him back inside to stop the leak. When Eldridge and Donahue went back inside, the lawsuit says, the system exploded.

Smith is also suing the owners of the White City warehouse that exploded—a couple that lives in Virginia but has a second residence in Madras—and the companies that sold extraction materials to Eldridge. None of the defendants responded to a request for comment.

In August 2023, Donahue was convicted of criminal negligent homicide in the death of Eldridge and of first-degree arson for an incident involving cannabis manufacturing. It appears he was living in Virginia at the time but also had, for a time, a residence in Ashland, Ore. Donahue is serving three years’ probation but received no time in prison, court records indicate.

Court records also show that law enforcement found multiple firearms, unidentified pills, LSD and psilocybin mushrooms at the warehouse.

The other plaintiff listed in the lawsuit is the young daughter of Eldridge, who lives in New Mexico.

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