Already the target of an investigation by the New York state attorney general’s office into how the company packages and discloses its caffeine content, Monster Beverage is a facing a new lawsuit alleging that the high caffeine content in its flagship beverage contributed to the death of a Maryland teenager last December. The lawsuit claims that 14 year-old Anais Fournier went into cardiac arrest after consuming two 24 oz. cans of Monster Energy in a 24 hour period. After arriving at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Fournier was placed into an induced coma in an attempt to reduce brain swelling. Six days later, she was removed from life support.
According to the Maryland medical examiner’s office, the cause of Fournier’s death was cardiac arrhythmia as a result of caffeine toxicity, which hindered her heart’s ability to pump blood. However, Fournier’s autopsy report also noted that she was affected with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a group of inherited disorders that weaken connective tissues in the body.
Nevertheless, the lawsuit, which was filed last Friday in California Superior Court (Riverside County), accuses Monster of heavily marketing its energy drinks to teenagers and young adults, “the individuals most susceptible to caffeine-related injury.” Moreover, the plaintiffs allege that had Monster “properly disclosed and warned of the significant risk of suffering adverse cardiac episodes, including cardiac arrhythmias, due to the consumption of Monster Energy, a product containing exorbitant levels of caffeine, taurine and guarana, Anais Fournier would not have purchased and consumed two 24 oz. Monster Energy drinks within a 24 hour period.”
“Monster, with their targeted marketing practices and promotion of energy drinks to teenagers, put profits over the safety of America’s youth,” said Kevin Goldberg, an attorney with of Goldberg, Finnegan, and Mester, which is representing the Fournier family. “Nothing can bring Anais back, but we can tell the world these energy drinks are harmful.”
Despite the lawsuit, Monster spokesman Evan Pondel stated that the company is “unaware of any fatality anywhere that has been caused by its drinks,” and is not responsible for Fournier’s death.
“The Fournier family has chosen to file a lawsuit, which Monster intends to vigorously defend and, in light of such pending litigation, Monster’s policy is to not comment further,” Pondel said.
As part of the lawsuit, Fournier’s mother, Wendy Crossland, said that according to a branch of the FDA known as the Food Safety Adverse Event Reporting System, six deaths and 15 hospitalizations have been associated in some way with Monster Energy since 2009.
While those reports do not indicate whether any other elements — like alcohol or drugs — may have been involved in those incidents, the agency is looking into those cases, according to an FDA spokeswoman.