I’ve blogged previously on the topic of the potential dangers of “energy” drinks. Still, seemingly every supermarket I shop in these days, I see these drinks proliferating left & right. Without doubt, these drinks and similar products can potentially injure you. Very high levels of caffeine can cause serious health problems such as cardiac arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat,) anxiety attacks, dangerously blood pressure and, in some cases, even sudden death. The obvious reason: They’re packed full of high-concentrated caffeine. High concentrate caffeine isn’t limited to energy drink products – it’s also marketed in powdered form, pills, and is widely available online. Hospital ER visits caused by high concentrate caffeine and energy drinks doubled over the past four years – from 10,000 to 20,000.
Aside from adults, an enormous number of teenagers and college kids consume the drug in these drinks. And yes, caffeine is a drug – and a highly addictive one, at that. Ever tried talking with someone who hasn’t had his/her morning fix? So, just how concentrated is this stuff? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reported that a single teaspoon of powdered caffeine is equal to the amount of caffeine contained in a stunning 28 cups of coffee: That’s approximately 1,600 milligrams of caffeine — equal to about 70 cans of Red Bull! How much caffeine is safe? The FDA recommends a maximum daily limit of 400 milligrams of caffeine (about 5 8 oz. cups of coffee) to minimize safety risks.
So, can you sue if you’ve suffered physical or emotional harm from them? First, remember the maxim that anyone can file a suit over anything – that’s a constitutional right. The salient questions is, would you win? The answer to the last question, is “It depends”
Despite the dangers of high concentrate caffeine being so clear, and despite the fact that the FDA has issued warnings about this on its website, they can only issue warnings, they can’t regulate it. Why? Because the FDA’s scope and power over these products is limited, due to the fact that energy drinks are categorized by the federal government as “nutritional supplements,” and therefore don’t fall under FDA regulation. The FDA regulates only food and drugs, so in order for caffeine products to be regulated, the status would need to be reclassified from a nutritional supplement to a drug. To answer the obvious question: If caffeine is a drug, why is it classified as a nutritional supplement instead of a drug? Answer: Money. Large, usually high-value companies manufacture these products, one of the biggest of them being Monster Beverage, a California-based company known for making caffeinated energy drinks. Monster and similar companies have been sued for caffeine overdose cases, but it hasn’t changed their business model (yet.)
Most caffeine overdose cases are called product liability cases. Within this legal category of cases there are cases called defective products cases, and there is developing legal theory that high caffeine products are by definition defective products, given their often dangerously high levels of caffeine. Defective marketing may also form the basis of an energy drink, or caffeine product liability claim, due to inadequate health and safety warnings.
Experienced Legal Counsel In a Caffeine Overdose Lawsuit Is Critical
If you think that you may have suffered some type of injury due to drinking high-caffeine energy drinks, or ingesting caffeine powder or caffeine pills, try to answer these questions:
- Is the amount of caffeine listed on the product?
- Is there a warning label of any kind on the product?
- Are there clearly understandable maximum usage or dosage guidelines on the product?
If the answer to any of the above questions is “no,” and you suspect that you or someone you know may been injured due to a caffeine overdose, you would be wise to seek legal counsel from an experienced Massachusetts defective products law firm. We’d be happy to provide you with a free consultation if you’d like. You can contact us here, or call us at our phone numbers on this page.