Energy Drink Injury Claims In Massachusetts Are On The Rise

My wife and I were watching an episode of the hit show Shark Tank on TV a few weeks ago, when we were shocked to see an entrepreneur’s latest offering: pancakes ladled with caffeine, so you could have your sugar and caffeine in one easy fix, no coffee required.

As a Boston product liability lawyer, I just have to ask: When will marketers stop pushing crazy “energy” food products to the American public? The proof is already in: “Energy products”, and “energy drinks” specifically, are very dangerous, and have even led to Massachusetts wrongful death lawsuits. Massachusetts Representative Edward Markey said recently, “It’s time for energy drink makers to stop masking their ingredients, stop marketing to kids, and start being more transparent with their products.”

I wholeheartedly agree. Consider these facts:

Between 2007 and 2011, the amount of emergency-room visits caused by energy drinks doubled, from 10,000 to 20,000. Experts say the ER visits were typically caused by heart problems caused by an overdose of caffeine.

As a Boston wrongful death lawyer, I realize that that is an astounding statistic, and one that everyone should bear in mind. The American public now spends an estimated $12.5 BILLION annually on energy shots, drinks and drink mixes, according to a recent story in The Boston Globe. That figure represents an approximately 60% increase than was spent on the same products just five years ago, in 2008. Particularly dangerous are supplements and energy drinks that contain DMAA – that’s the stimulant dimethylamylamine. Apparently, this stimulant has resulted in about 60 cases of complications, including seizures, psychiatric problems, heart attacks and even death. The fine print about energy drinks is all incredibly complicated and confusing, but the bottom line is that the U. S. Food and Drug Administration has attempted, in the past four years, to get DMAA off the market. The FDA considers DMAA an unproven dietary supplement that that still needs to be tested for safety. The agency has repeatedly warned manufacturing companies that make products containing DMAA in their dietary supplements that their products containing DMAA are illegal. They also warned that when combined with caffeine, DMAA is especially dangerous. One product that reporetedly falls in this category is Jack3d, which was the subject of a recent major report on NBC.

Medical experts are making comparisons between DMAA and another highly publicized supplement that was banned years ago — Ephedra. They report that people who use products with DMAA tend to experience the same horrible reactions that were seen by people using Ephedra, including strokes, heart attacks, and deaths.

I’ve written blog posts before, about the dangers of using energy drinks. In one celebrated case, a family has filed a lawsuit against Monster Energy Products, because their 14-year-old daughter died soon after injesting Monster Energy caffeinated drinks. The parents claim that Monster Energy’s caffeinated drinks killed their daughter, after she drank two 24-oz. Monster Energy drinks within 24 hours. Her untimely death was said to be caused by cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity, according to autopsy reports. As a Massachusetts unsafe products lawyer, I’m shocked to find that so many people still consume energy drinks, despite all the warnings about them.

Over at Harvard Medical School, an assistant professor named Dr. Pieter Cohen likened DMAA to amphetamines, and, in a letter last year in the Archives of Internal Medicine, he asked for a ban on DMAA. Dr. Cohen reported that his patients told him that they like using products with DMAA, because it allows them to have better workouts, pumped up their energy, and in some cases, even helped them to lose some weight. But, he noted, “They get addicted to the caffeine and other stimulants,” and wind up getting headaches if they stop taking those products, even for one day.

As a Boston, Massachusetts personal injury lawyer, I caution people not to take any products containing DMAA.