It was the type of silly prank you might expect to see pulled at a fraternity house or in a comedy film, not at an exclusive country club — and in this case, the alleged victim apparently failed to appreciate the humor.
A Branchburg man is suing Copper Hill Country Club and several of its members, claiming that he suffered from health issues after being duped into chowing down on a marijuana brownie there last year. Barry Russo filed the lawsuit against the private, member-owned club in the Ringoes section of East Amwell, club President James MacDonald and club members James Kavanagh Jr. of Westampton and Gregg Chaplin of Raritan Township — the latter two of whom are accused of serving the brownie in question.
The lawsuit, filed Dec. 31 in state Superior Court, describes Russo as a “68-year-old diabetic with high blood pressure and a previous history of … stroke” who, prior to the events described in the filing, had never ingested marijuana “in any form or fashion.”
According to the suit, on June 1, 2012, when Russo was attending a golf outing at the club, while in the locker room Chaplin and Kavanagh called out to him and asked if he wanted to try some brownies.
Russo initially declined, but the pair “insisted that the brownies were delicious” and asserted that Kavanagh “had taken several culinary courses for desserts and pastries and that (he) specialized in baking brownies,” the suit indicated. So out of what was described as politeness, Russo accepted one and ate it.
Not long thereafter, unnamed club members reportedly told Russo about the brownie’s contents. By that point, he already was feeling the effects, with rising blood pressure coupled with a lightheaded, dizzy sensation and numbness and tingling in certain parts of his body — symptoms identical to those he suffered prior to his stroke, according to the lawsuit.
Claim: Assistance wasn’t immediate
Russo then reportedly asked to see MacDonald and requested that the club president summon medical assistance — MacDonald agreed, but did not immediately do so, the suit claims. Instead, MacDonald walked Russo from the club’s patio area to the front porch in what Russo claims was an effort to “intentionally conceal (Russo’s) poisoning from the members and guests” on hand, according to the suit.
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