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Family of Teenager Killed by Energy Drink Files Suit PDF Print E-mail
Written by San Fernando Valley Sun   
Thursday, 25 October 2012 06:07

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LANCASTER – The family of Anais Fournier has filed a suit against the Monster Beverage Corporation following the teenager's death after consuming an energy drink.

The suit was filed Oct. 17 in the Superior Court of California for the County of Riverside, by Fournier's surviving parents, Wendy Crossland and Richard Fournier. In addition to her parents, Fournier is survived by her twin brother, Dorian, and younger sister, Jade.

Fournier, 14, and her family were at home watching a movie when she suffered a heart attack last December. Doctors put Fournier in an induced coma to reduce her brain swelling, but to no avail. She lived for six more days and then her family made the decision to remove her from life support. She died on Dec. 23.

According to the autopsy, the cause of death was caffeine toxicity from an "energy drink."

Anais had drunk two 24-oz. "Monster Energy" drinks in a 24- hour period, up to just hours before her death. Combined, the two drinks contained 480 milligrams of caffeine, the equivalent of almost 14 cans of cola.

The FDA requires that soft drinks contain no more than 71.5 mg of caffeine per 12 oz drink. However, the caffeine content of so-called "energy drinks" such as "Red Bull," "Rockstar" and "Monster Energy" is not regulated by the FDA because it is considered a "dietary supplement" and not a food, and is not subject to the FDA's caffeine restrictions. These energy drinks also contain guarana and taurine, stimulants that contain caffeine or produce similar effects on the cardiac muscles.

The R. Rex Parris Law Firm of Lancaster, California filed the suit against Monster Energy for failing to warn about the product's dangers. Among other claims, the lawsuit alleges strict product liability, failure to warn and negligence in the design, sale and manufacturing of the product.

"These energy drinks contain highly dangerous levels of caffeine and can be extremely harmful, but these grave health dangers are not clearly marked on the cans," said Alexander R. Wheeler, a lawyer at the R. Rex Parris Law Firm. "Anais' family wants to make sure another family doesn't have to endure the same tragedy as they have."

"I was shocked to learn the FDA can regulate caffeine in a can of soda, but not these huge energy drinks," said Wendy Crossland, Anais' mother. "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 mes-sage 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."

In the eight years between 2004 and 2012, sales of energy drinks have gone up 240 percent, and the FDA has reported six deaths and 18 hospitalizations associated with Monster Energy drinks.

A report issued last year by the U.S. Department of Health and Services cited ten times as many emergency room visits associated with energy drinks between 2004 and 2009, totaling more than 16,000 visits in 2008 alone, leading some states such as Virginia to ban the use of the drinks during student athletic events.

"Monster, with their targeted marketing practices and promotion of energy drinks to teenagers, put profits over the safety of America's youth," said Kevin I. Goldberg, of Goldberg, Finnegan, and Mester firm in Silver Spring, Maryland, a lawyer also representing the family.

"Nothing can bring Anais back, but we can tell the world these energy drinks are harmful. Our hope is discovery in this case will shed light on Monster Corporation's practices regarding what they do or do not tell the public and FDA about the safety of their products."

Monster Beverage company officials have released a statement defending the safety of its products.

"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. "The company wishes to point out that:

Tens of billions of energy drinks have been sold and safely consumed worldwide for approximately 25 years, including more than 8 billion cans of Monster Energy that have been sold and safely consumed in the United States and around the world since 2002. The company monitors consumer communications it receives, is unaware of any fatality anywhere that has been caused by its products, and has never before been the subject of any lawsuit of this nature.

Monster Energy drinks generally contain approximately 10 milligrams of caffeine from all sources per ounce. By comparison, the leading brands of coffee house brewed coffee contain on average more than 20 milligrams of caffeine per ounce. An entire 24-ounce can of Monster Energy contains about 240 milligrams of caffeine from all sources, which is around 30 percent less than the average caffeine contained in a medium-sized, 16- ounce cup of coffee house brewed coffee.

Monster Energy drinks, including their ingredients and labeling, are in full compliance with all laws and regulations in each of the more than 70 countries in which they are sold.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") has stated that adverse event reports about a product do not mean that the reported event is caused by the product. The FDA has made it clear that it has not established any causal link between Monster Energy drinks and the reports it has received.

"Neither the science nor the facts support the allegations that have been made. Monster reiterates that its products are and have always been safe."

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Last Updated on Thursday, 25 October 2012 06:10