A California woman has sued Monster Beverage Corp., claiming her son's habit of drinking two 16 oz. cans a day of the company's energy drink caused him to die from cardiac arrest last year.
The suit was filed on Tuesday by the same attorneys who represent the family of Anais Fournier, 14, who died in 2011 after drinking Monster energy drinks. In that case, Monster has insisted that its energy drink played no role in Fournier's death.
"Both families are bringing the lawsuits because they want to make sure this doesn't happen to other kids," said Kevin Goldberg of Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester in Silver Spring, Md., who represents the families of both teenagers. "The public needs to know that energy drinks are dangerous."
A call to Monster's headquarters in Corona, Calif., was not returned.
Energy drinks have been under scrutiny for their high levels of caffeine. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration recently reported that emergency room visits involving energy drinks are up, and a study by the American Heart Association found that energy drinks can alter heart rhythms and increase blood pressure.
In March, a group of 18 doctors and scientists wrote a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, urging regulatory action to protect children and adolescents from energy drinks with high amounts of caffeine. The FDA announced a formal investigation on May 3 into the safety of caffeine-containing food products on children and adolescents. The FDA previously indicated that as many as five deaths between 2009 and 2012 might be linked to Monster's energy drink; another 13 were associated with 5-Hour Energy.
Tuesday's lawsuit, which seeks punitive damages, was filed in Alameda County, Calif., Superior Court on behalf of Paula Morris, who is represented by Goldberg; Alexander Wheeler and Jason Fowler of the R. Rex Parris Law Firm in Lancaster, Calif.; and Michael Brown, Michael Blumenfeld and Joe Hovermill at Miles & Stockbridge in Baltimore, Md.
According to the complaint, Alex Morris, 19, drank at least two Monster energy drink cans per day for three years, including in the 24 hours preceding his death on July 1, 2012. He died "while engaged in sexual activity with his girlfriend," the suit says.
On May 6, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera sued Monster for marketing its drink to kids as young as six; the company had preemptively sued the city on April 29.
Monster, Red Bull and Innovation Ventures, maker of 5-Hour Energy, also face consumer class actions questioning claims made about their products.
In March, Monster announced that it would market its drink as a beverage, rather than a dietary supplement. The change means Monster no longer has to report deaths associated with its drink but must include caffeine content in the labeling.
Contact Amanda Bronstad at email@example.com.