The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been made aware of as many as six deaths and 18 hospitalizations that might be linked to drinking the high-caffeine energy drink Monster, which has its corporate offices in Corona. (Monster disputes any links.)
It turns out one of those deaths involved a 14-year-old Maryland girl, Anais Fournier, who was hospitalized after drinking two large cans of Monster.
Her family announced a lawsuit this week against the Southern California makers of the drink:
In a statement sent to the Weekly and other outlets, her family's L.A.-area lawyer, Alexander R. Wheeler, says Fornier was watching a movie at a mall when she suffered a fatal heart attack in December.
A coma was induced but she was taken off of life support after six days, the statement says:
According to the autopsy, the cause of death was caffeine toxicity from an "energy drink."
Fournier's family filed a wrongful-death lawsuit last week in Riverside County Superior Court.
A dollar figure wasn't attached to the claim, but the suit says the family seeks "to recover all damages allowed by law for personal injuries suffered by their daughter prior to her death" as well as "all damages allowed by law as a result of the wrongful death of their daughter."
The suit says Anais had two 24-ounce cans of Monster -- the equivalent, it argues, of "fourteen (14) 12-oz. cans of Coca-Cola." One of those Monster cans has 240 milligrams of caffeine as well as guarana (which apparently has more caffeine) and taurine, another energy supplement.
A few hours after her last sip, the suit says, Fournier went into cardiac arrest.
Attorney Wheeler argues that caffeine is known to have been lethal in doses as low as 200 milligrams, and that Monster should know better than to market and sell such high-octane energy products, particularly to kids.
UP NEXT: The full complaint, and claims that Monster has danced around FDA regulation on caffeine by marketing itself as a dietary supplement.
The suit claims Monster has danced around FDA regulations on caffeine by marketing itself as a dietary supplement:
Despite the well-known health risks associated with excessive caffeine consumption, MONSTER ENERGY, is heavily marketed towards teenagers and young adults, the individuals most susceptible to caffeine-related injury.
The suit alleges Monster Beverage Corporation and its parent, Hansen Natural Corporation, failed to warn consumers of the risks of its high-caffeine beverages.
Monster responded yesterday:
Monster is saddened by the untimely passing of Anais Fournier, and its sympathies go out to her family. Monster does not believe that its products are in any way responsible for the death of Ms. Fournier and intends to vigorously defend the lawsuit.
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The company says the FDA has established no scientific link between Monster and these deaths, that even its 24-ounce cans have less caffeine than a 16-ounce cup of coffee, and that it has sold 8 billion cans of the beverage -- trouble-free.
Fournier died Dec. 23. Her mother says:
I was shocked to learn the FDA can regulate caffeine in a can of soda but not these huge energy drinks. With their bright colors and names like Monster, Rockstar and Full Throttle, these drinks are targeting teenagers with no oversight or accountability. These drinks are death traps for young, developing girls and boys, like my daughter, Anais. Nothing will replace the love and vitality of Anais. I just want Monster Energy to know their product can kill. I want Anais' life to send a loud and clear message to today's youth that energy drinks can kill. I would like nothing more than to have these drinks regulated by the FDA and ban the sale to minors.