STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Roy Hunter, a Staten Island man and former MTA bus driver, had his life come “crashing down around him” when he failed a random drug test after drinking a weight loss tea that was advertised as containing “0.0% THC,” according to a lawsuit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court.
Hunter was hired in late 2012 by the MTA as a bus operator — his “dream job,” court papers said.
However, after years of mostly sedentary work, he was looking to get healthier in 2020 after a visit to his primary doctor revealed that he was nearly diabetic.
He began to look for healthy and safe ways to lose weight online when he stumbled upon a raspberry flavored iaso tea, a “Broad-Spectrum Hemp Extract THC tea product” from a Michigan company called Total Life Changes, advertised as containing zero THC, the lawsuit alleges.
THC — or tetrahydrocannabinol — is the psychoactive compound found in marijuana.
The product’s advertising said it could aid in weight loss, court papers said, and Hunter was aware that ingesting THC could cause him to lose his job.
In July of 2020, Hunter took a random MTA drug test and was soon informed that he failed, said the lawsuit. Shocked, he was forced to take a demotion to be a bus cleaner.
As part of the demotion, Hunter took 64 drug tests over an eight-month span and passed each one, according to the court papers.
Eager to find out how he failed the drug test, Hunter eventually remembered that he drank the aforementioned tea, the lawsuit said. And in March of this year, he took a few of the individual tea packets from the larger package he previously used and sent them to California for laboratory testing.
The lab tests found the samples of tea contained THC, the lawsuit alleges.
Total Life Change’s attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“This is a classic case of a multi-million dollar company putting profits over people,” said Hunter’s lawyer, Scott Richman, of Richman Law Firm PLLC. “The misrepresentations on the packaging of the Total Life Changes tea product were clear, unequivocal, misleading, and with the sole intention to induce prospective purchasers to buy their product.”
“Now, instead of taking responsibility for what they did, Total Life Changes would rather take the position that these people ‘got what they paid for’,” added Richman. “We will not let that stand.”