Attorneys for a national consumer law firm, Orlando-based Morgan and Morgan, held a news conference Monday to announce they’ve filed lawsuits against Monster Beverage Corporation on behalf of five people who claim to have suffered serious, life-threatening injuries from consumption of Monster’s beverages. Attorneys say one of the cases includes a 14-year-old boy who suffered a stroke. In their statement today, the firm claimed that “Monster and other energy drinks can lead to adverse health affects ranging from kidney failure to strokes.”
The law firm is investigating at least 100 more cases and launched a website, a blog and a Facebook page to seek additional complainants. They are asking consumers, “Do You Consume Any of These Energy Drinks? Find out what you’re risking every time you take a sip”, and list the following products: 5-hour Energy, Rockstar, Red Bull and Monster. Based on their findings, they may expand the lawsuit to include other energy drink manufacturers.
Some are skeptical of the link between the drinks and serious health issues, saying pre-existing conditions may be to blame. Dr. Todd Husty, Director of Seminole County’s Emergency Medical Services, in Florida, says, “There have been previous settled suits and previous thrown out suits, because of (claims) that the caffeine caused certain problems. But what gets questioned always is what pre-existing conditions did the patients have?”
In January, Monster Beverage Corporation attempted to move a lawsuit filed against it from state court in California to federal court, and then moved to have the case thrown out. In that case, the U.S. District Judge sent the lawsuit back to the California State Courts, dismissing the Corporation’s request. If it had reached federal court, Monster would have claimed the suit be dismissed on the grounds that FDA regulations don’t require dietary supplements to have the quantity of each ingredient on the supplement facts panel.
Claims made against the company revolve around a number of factors, including the amount of caffeine in the beverage. A study conducted estimated that a regular can of Monster had two-to-three eight-oz. servings of 80mg of caffeine. A typical eight-oz. cup of coffee has 100mg of caffeine. Many consumers of coffee drink more than one cup each day. The amount of caffeine is not the sole concern.
In their statement, Morgan stated that “Most of the vitamins and added benefits that they are putting in exceed daily recommended doses of it, and so beyond that, then you add in the proprietary energy blend and you have no idea what you’re drinking.” The lawsuit also alleges that Monster’s marketing intentionally targets children, teens and young adults and encourages unhealthy consumption of products. The question remains, at what point are you responsible for what you choose to consume, vs. corporate responsibility to the consumer for transparency in their product?