After five deaths and one heart attack, Monster Beverage Corporation now faces a class-action lawsuit. The suit claims that Monster knowingly marketed, advertised, and sold the drink as a safe beverage despite its toxic mix of ingredients.
The lead plaintiff began drinking Monster when he was 16 years old, because the company marketed the beverage at his high school, handing out free cans to the students. The suit is alleging, among other things, that Monster purposefully targets teens and pre-teens to get them hooked on the carbonated beverage without any warning of the risks.
Medical and scientific studies show that one of the main ingredients in Monster, epigallocatechin-3-gallate, is associated with liver injuries and other adverse side effects. Additionally, numerous studies found that consuming large amounts of caffeine, in conjunction with other Monster ingredients, such as sugar, carnitine, taurine, and guarana, can have devastating consequences to human health, especially in teenagers.
In December 2012, the FDA reported more than 40 adverse health effects associated with Monster drinks, including five deaths. One of these victims was 14-year-old Anais Fournier, who died of cardiac arrest in 2011. Anais consumer two 24-ounce cans of Monster Energy in a two day period, which contains about 240 milligrams of caffeine. Anais died from cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity. Her parents recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company.
Because of current FDA standards, energy companies are not required to label the amount of caffeine on the beverage packages. This is made possible by the option for companies to label their products as dietary supplements, which have different ingredient and labeling rules than do, for example, Coca-Cola products. The class-action lawsuit alleges that Monster purposefully circumvented government regulations and sold its products to unsuspecting and impressionable consumers. Specifically, plaintiffs are arguing the company violated the Unfair Competition Law, Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, and Consumer Legal Remedies Act.
Additional adverse event reports include incidents of vomiting, tremors, abdominal pain, and abnormal heart rate. The product may also cause damage to the liver, including acute liver failure and hepatitis. In August 2012, the FDA stated that there was not enough evidence to act on excessive caffeine levels in energy drinks.
A few months later, in November 2012, the FDA released a new report detailing their investigation into energy drinks and shots. Monster is just one of the many energy products on market today, other products include Red Bull, Rock Star, and 5-Hour Energy. In the reports, the FDA maintained that energy drinks and supplements are relatively new to American markets, and that the agency is continuing investigations into reports of illness, injury, and death associated with these products.
Over the last decade, Monster has sold more than eight billion cans of the energy drinks, and the class action includes claims of unjust enrichment. Because of their dietary supplement designation, Monster energy drinks were never subjected to pre-market reviews to establish whether it was safe for consumers. Energy drinks are expected to change their classification status to conventional beverages soon, which will require companies to disclose levels of caffeine and other stimulants on its labels.
Energy drink lawyers at Pintas & Mullins understand that many consumers never would have purchased Monster drinks if they were aware they were jeopardizing their health. It is important that Monster Beverage Corp be held liable for this deception. If you or someone close to you was seriously injured by an energy drink or shot, you have important legal rights, and may be eligible to compensation.