New FDA Probe and Wrongful Death Action Confirm Emerging Liabilties Relating to Energy Drinks

I always hate to say “I told you so” but what did I tell you?  Left Coast Law predicted just a few weeks ago (here), that there will be a number of new California lawsuits relating to energy drinks being consumed by kids (including a few of my own–you know who you are and your Mom and I are onto you). 

What better place to file a lawsuit than California?  As reported by Reuters yesterday, the FDA has launched a new investigation stemming from five separate deaths and last Friday a lawsuit was filed in Riverside Superior Court.

The family of Anais Fournier sued Monster on Friday for failing to warn about the product’s dangers.

The lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court in Riverside, said that after drinking two 24-ounce cans of Monster Energy on consecutive days Fournier went into cardiac arrest. She was placed in an induced coma and died six days later on December 23, 2011.

The lawsuit said Fournier died from “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity” that complicated an existing heart valve condition related to a disorder called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

The two drinks together contained 480 milligrams of caffeine, the equivalent of 14 12-ounce cans of Coca-Cola, according to the lawsuit.

This is the tip of the iceberg.  There will be a number of “pile on” class action lawsuits that will not only name the manufacturers of these drinks but every party in the distribution chain, including retailers, recretional facilities, schools, vending machine operators, etc.  The tobacco litigation of the 20th Century is the blueprint for this type of litigation. 


There is no time like the present to assess your vulnerability and whether your contractual indemnity rights are adequately protected.  See also suggestions in prior post.

Author: Kent Schmidt

As a Partner in the Southern California office, Kent practices in virtually all types of general business litigation, with an emphasis in unfair business practices, First Amendment litigation, defamation, trade secret litigation, class actions, product liability, securities litigation and enforcement, commercial disputes, employment law, intellectual property and Prop 65 (environmental) claims. He is an aggressive and creative courtroom advocate, representing both plaintiffs and defendants. Having spent his entire legal career at Dorsey, Kent is adept at finding the right lawyers in the firm to collaborate with in order to provide the best representation for his clients.

2 thoughts on “New FDA Probe and Wrongful Death Action Confirm Emerging Liabilties Relating to Energy Drinks”

  1. I thought of your posting from a few weeks regarding the energy drinks and you called this spot on. I’m torn with this issue. 1. Because I do not drink Monster Energy Drinks (though I have taken about 4 sips from one and stopped drinking it) and 2. Because it seems as though we cannot accept responsibility for our own actions and choices (i.e. choosing to drink Monster Energy drinks). I realize that sometimes the perfect storm arises where something like a genetic disorder and the choice to drink such a drink collide. As an example USA Today printed an article talking about Monster stocks plunging and in the article they state, “toxicity and the medical examiner also found that she had an inherited disorder that can weaken blood vessels.” (

    As a parent I feel very sorry for the young lady to which this happened and the circumstances surrounding her death, but as a business owner it irritates me that the unproven claims of this issue causes stocks to plummet (perhaps I should invest in monster right now) because of the unproven and unfortunate circumstances.

    What a litigious world we live in. People believe in the right to file a suit when a genetic disorder collides with an enormous amount of caffeine, and I guess based on the law they do have that right. I agree that it is a horribly tragic situation, but it’s not like the product name isn’t self-proclaiming “Monster Energy Drink” nor the fact that the product warning label doesn’t provide some insight to the fact that there may be a lot of caffeine in the product. I would like to see the parents of this young lady held partially responsible, or at least have to prove that they successfully taught this young lady right from wrong.
    I think that it would have been better, rather than filing a suit, to have spoken with the FDA and perhaps had the FDA probe into this case; however, this occurred in a completely reverse order.
    Sorry for the rant, I just thought I’d add my two cents. Thanks for taking the time out to post this, and most amazingly for calling this spot on!

  2. Good thoughts in all respects. It is a tough call and figuring out the right balance is very tough. You would be a good and thoughtful juror!

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