Jacob Magley, the worker badly burned in an October 2016 butane explosion and fire in Uniontown and later accused of culpability by the parties he is suing, called the allegations against him a smokescreen to deflect from an illegal hash oil-making enterprise.
Magley was a contractor working in the basement of a building leased by William “Chris” West and Jason Oei for growing marijuana and manufacturing butane hash oil at the corner of Portway and Industry streets. A flash fire ignited from odorless butane gas in the air blew Magley backwards and badly burned his hands and face.
Magley sued West, Oei and three of their companies in Multnomah County Circuit Court for $8.9 million. He claimed the two had been dabbing, a method of vaporizing concentrated marijuana with an open heat source, while making the hash oil.
Magley also sued property owner Richard Delphia and several of his companies; two of investor John Harper’s companies; and Sweet Relief, an Astoria marijuana store that leased space above the processing operation. Harper in turn filed claims against Whip-It Premium butane gas distributor Rich & Rhine and manufacturer United Brands Products Design Development and Marketing Inc., blaming them for any defects in the product.
The defendants all filed motions to dismiss Magley’s case, claiming he had helped West and Oei make the hash oil with the open-air system in contradiction of state law, felonious behavior barring his claims.
The “evidence of record in this case is that plaintiff didn’t actually make hash oil at any time,” Jonah Flynn, Magley’s lawyer, wrote.
Magley was a construction worker who played a minor role without any profit in the operations at the site, unlike the defendants, Flynn wrote. Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis, who prosecuted West and Oei for felony assault and reckless endangerment, has said he does not believe Magley committed a crime.
Oei and West leased the building from Delphia for growing marijuana and manufacturing hash oil and subleased a space to Sweet Relief. Flynn claimed Sweet Relief was responsible for preventing the release of hazardous materials such as the odorless butane gas that caused the explosion, while Delphia as the property owner was responsible for installing proper ventilation, sprinklers and other safety equipment.
“It was the negligence of Delphia, Harper, Sweet Relief, and (Rich & Rhine and United Brands) herein which directly led to this explosion,” Flynn wrote.