Citing a trove of medical research funded by the company, Monster Beverage Corp. today issued a lengthy statement denying responsibility for the death of Anais Fournier, a 14 year-old Maryland girl whose family blamed her death on the consumption of Monster Energy drinks.
In October, Fournier’s family filed a lawsuit against Monster claiming that the high caffeine content in its energy drinks caused her to go into cardiac arrest. The high-profile case fueled intensifying criticism from politicians and public health officials who claim that energy drinks are not adequately labeled and unsafe for children.
Shortly after being hit with the lawsuit, Monster hired a team of physicians and asked them to review Fournier’s medical records, the pathology report and autopsy report, all of which were used by the Maryland medical examiner’s office, which determined that the cause of Fournier’s death was cardiac arrhythmia as a result of caffeine toxicity. The office stated that the high levels of caffeine complicated “mitral value regurgitation in the setting of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome,” a condition which hindered her heart’s ability to pump blood.
Monster attorney Daniel Callahan stated that after examining the evidence in the case, “the physicians stated conclusively that there is no medical, scientific or factual evidence to support the Maryland Medical Examiner’s Report of ‘caffeine toxicity’ or that Ms. Fournier’s consumption of two Monster Energy Drinks 24 hours apart contributed to, let alone was the cause of her untimely death.”
Moreover, Callahan said that the Maryland Medical Examiner did not conduct any blood tests to examine the caffeine levels in Fournier’s body following her death. Instead, the office reported that caffeine toxicity was a factor based on interviews with Fournier’s mother, who told administrators that that her daughter had consumed energy drinks before her death.
“There is no medical or scientific evidence that Ms. Fournier had any caffeine in her system at the time of cardiac arrest,” Callahan said.
And even if caffeine had been found in her body, Monster said that it would not have played any role in her going into cardiac arrest, according to physicians and the coroner who examined her records, citing medical literature. Callahan noted that Fournier had regularly consumed caffeinated drinks, including Starbucks coffee and other energy drinks, without incident.
Kevin Goldberg, the attorney representing Fournier’s family in the lawsuit, responded harshly to Monster’s statement.
“In America, a jury of our peers determines justice. Not doctors paid by billion-dollar corporations to attend press conferences,” he told the Associated Press.
Monster’s statement comes a few days after the company announced that, despite the wave of backlash and negative attention surrounding energy drinks, its 2012 fourth quarter sales rose by 15 percent compared to the same period one year prior.