Fatality Tied To Energy Drink Brings Lawsuit

Energy drinks seem to be on the shelves everywhere in the past few years. I’ve always looked at these products with great skepticism – not about their ability to turn the average person into someone who has just stuck his finger into an electrical outlet – but skeptical as to their safety. I always felt they were medically dangerous – and recent news events appear to support that idea.

Not surprisingly, a lot of people use these drinks. It’s not hard to imagine this common scenario: You’ve been up all night working on an important project, and got just an hour or two of sleep. And it gets worse – you need to get up early to go to work. You feel terrible. You have the entire day ahead of you. And breakfast with a huge cup of coffee just won’t do it for you. You’re exhausted. The “solution”? You down an energy drink, trusting and hoping that its large jolt of caffeine will stimulate you enough to get you through the day. It doesn’t occur to you that it might be medically unsafe. Unfortunately, what you don’t know can literally kill you. That’s right. Some so-called energy drinks –such as Monster Energy – can allegedly be fatal if you drink them.

In fact, one family is now suing Monster Energy Products, after their 14-year-old daughter died soon after consuming Monster Energy caffeinated drinks. After the death, the parents of 14-year-old Anais Fournier filed their lawsuit. They are saying that Monster Energy’s caffeinated drinks killed their daughter. Apparently, Miss Fournier drank two 24-oz. Monster Energy drinks within 24 hours. Her death, according to her autopsy, was attributed to cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity. This is upsetting news and as a Massachusetts unsafe products lawyer, I’m always saddened to hear about manufacturers who create products that allegedly harm people.

But it gets even worse.

During the past three years, it has been reported that at least five people have died after consuming Monster Energy drinks, according to information that was released by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA has not confirmed that Monster Energy beverages were directly responsible for the deaths, but reports and information given to the FDA seem to be part of 37 adverse events that were sent in by the public, which had to do with Monster drinks. The New York Times has reported that from the year 2004 to June of this year, the FDA apparently received reports of five deaths linked to Monster Energy. Similarly according to Bloomberg News, visits to emergency rooms, which have involved these energy drinks, have spiked ten times between the years 2005 and 2009.

According to the plaintiffs in the Anais Fournier suit, the two drinks that Miss Fournier drank contained a total 480 milligrams of caffeine — this is tantamount to 14 cans of cola. The FDA limits the amount of caffeine per soda to 71.5 mg per 12-oz. beverage. What does Monster Energy have to say about this? Not surprisingly, they are denying all liability. Monster said its products typically include 10 milligrams of caffeine “from all sources per ounce.” Seems they can’t swallow the idea that they produce an unsafe and dangerous “nutritional” product. Here, verbatim, is what Monster Energy has said in response to the Fournier suit: “An entire 24-oz. can of Monster Energy contains about 240 milligrams of caffeine … which is around 30 percent less than the average caffeine contained in a medium-sized 16-oz. cup of coffee house-brewed coffee.”

The incredible nature of this claim, coupled with the fact that it is produced by a company called “Monster,” and the fact that it’s now just about Halloween, remind me of a line from the song “Monster Mash”: “I was working in the lab late last night, when my eyes beheld an eerie sight.” Seems the site of Monster’s own lab technicians, was a lab report claiming that their products are all “safe.” I don’t mean at all to make light of anything about the Fournier suit, at all. I do mean to illustrate the unbelievable nature of Monster Energy’s claim about the harmless nature of this product. Monster Energy has also claimed that during the past 16 years the company has sold more than 8 billion of its energy drinks. They have stated that the FDA’s “adverse event reports … do not mean that the reported event is caused by the product.”

Uh-huh. They have also said that the FDA has pointed out that it has not established any causal link between Monster Energy drinks and the negative reports it has received. If that’s the case, then it’s apparent to me that the FDA needs to take a more serious look at the amount of caffeine included in these energy drinks. Why? Because as of right now, the FDA, incredibly, does not require the amount of caffeine in a product to be listed on the food label and that is because caffeine is not considered a nutrient. In fact, energy drinks are sold as dietary supplements – that’s why they aren’t regulated under FDA guidelines.

But the bottom line here is that an innocent victim has been seriously harmed – and killed – by allegedly drinking a so-called energy drink loaded with caffeine. That is just not right. If you or someone love lives or works in Massachusetts and has been harmed by eating or drinking Monster Energy drinks, or any similar food or beverage product, it is in your best interests to contact an experienced Boston, Massachusetts defective products lawyer. Defective and unsafe products cases are very complex, and lawyers who are not very experienced in these cases are generally not qualified to handle them.

Our firm has a proven track record of success in these cases, and would be happy to provide you with a free consultation if you feel the need.