Posted On: January 24, 2013 by Steven D. Silverman

Rising Liability Concerns of Energy Drinks

Recent developments and reports regarding the side effects of energy drinks are getting more and more attention in Maryland and national news. Reports are surfacing of several deaths and other serious medical conditions potentially resulting from the consumption of energy drinks or “dietary supplements” such as; Monster Energy, Red Bull, Amp, 5-Hour Energy, Rockstar, and Venom. Personal injury lawyers are taking notice.

A Recent report filed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) revealed some alarming information of this rising concern. The report illustrates that the number of emergency department visits involving energy drinks, since 2007, has more than doubled in 2011. Further evidencing this growing issue, the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) has reported that 13 deaths over the last four years have involved the small yet caffeine packed energy shot, 5-Hour Energy. Moreover, the F.D.A. has had the same energy drink mentioned in more than 90 filings. In an article by the New York Times, the F.D.A. is also cited as receiving five fatality filings referencing 5-Hour Energy’s main competitor – Monster Energy.

One of these filings received by the F.D.A. involved Anais Fournier, a 14 year-old Maryland girl. Fournier consumed two twenty-four ounce cans of Monster Energy and as a result died of “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity.” On October 19, 2012, the family filed a lawsuit in the California Superior Court in Riverside, California, against Monster Beverage’s. The family, in a wrongful death suit, alleged the correlation between their young daughter’s consumption of the two Monster Energy drinks and her death.

Due to the extremely high content of caffeine, several other health complications have been linked to these energy drinks. These additional risks include; heart problems such as cardiac arrest, risk of miscarriages, an increased risk of alcohol injury and dependency, risk of drug abuse, and impaired cognition. These harmful health effects, along with others, can be magnified if consumed by young teenagers or consumed in addition to alcohol and drugs.
In response to the surge of complaints and the limited knowledge surrounding the issue and effects of energy drinks, legislators have sent letters to several producers requesting vital information. The purpose of these letters is to dig deeper into the substance of energy drinks as energy drink manufacturers are able to bypass the ingredient disclosure regulations of other sodas by marketing their products as “dietary supplements.” For example, Monster Energy is not required to list the specific amount of caffeine in its products; only that it contains guarana and taurine. Additionally, this strategic play by energy drink companies gives them separate reporting regulations of potential health risks. Lawmakers seek to find out these health risks from the various companies.

Wall Street is also recognizing the emerging risks related to these drinks. Specifically, Monster Beverage’s (MNST) has experienced an extreme decline in stock prices in response to the law suit filed in mid-October by Anais Fournier’s family. On October 16, 2012, Monster capped of their day at 58.42 only to fall to 41.08 on October 23rd. The New York Times also noticed the timeliness of this drop and reported that Monster’s stock immediately dropped more than 14 percent after the disclosure of the F.D.A. filings discussed above.

The attorneys at Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin, & White have been monitoring the recent litigation and reports involving energy drinks and their harmful health effects. Please feel free to contact the attorneys of Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin, & White to discuss any harmful side effects, you or one of your loved ones, may have experienced as a result of consuming an energy drink.

Please contact us for further information.

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