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A Monstrous Caffeine Overdose? The FDA Investigates 5 Caffeine Linked Deaths

The Food and Drug Administration announced that it is investigating five deaths and one heart attack, linked to Monster Energy drink. According to the Associated Press, a wrongful death lawsuit was filed against Monster after a teenage girl died after drinking two 24-ounce cans of their product in 24 hours. The girls’ autopsy revealed that she died of cardiac arrhythmia caused by toxic levels of caffeine in her system.

According to the Mayo Clinic, a standard 24-ounce can of Monster energy drink contains 240 milligrams of caffeine. Compare this figure to the caffeine found in a typical cola style soda, 33 milligrams, and one can understand how a child’s heart could fail to handle 480 milligrams of caffeine in a 24-hour period. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adolescents get no more than 100 milligrams of caffeine a day, and does not recommend any caffeine on a regular basis for younger children.

The issue with caffeine and children is that while coffee and tea beverages are usually marketed towards adults, the marketing campaigns for energy drinks appeal directly to adolescent children. The Monster energy drink is a black can with graffiti like font and a bright green “M” on it. The slogan for Monster energy is, “unleash the beast!” and Monster sponsors many high adrenaline events including motocross, surfing and skateboarding, all sports heavily viewed and followed by adolescents.

This has not been lost on Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, who has called on the FDA to investigate the high levels of caffeine in energy drinks that have not been proven safe. In the letter, the Illinois Senator voiced concerns about the safety of teen consumption of these highly caffeinated drinks, citing a recent Consumer Reports study that found that several energy drinks contained significantly more caffeine than the amounts on the can, while others did not disclose the amounts at all. A Monster representative stated that his company does not list levels “because there is no legal…requirement to do so, and also because our products are completely safe.” That quote aside, Monster’s label on its products warns against use by children and pregnant or nursing women.

Parents should warn their children about the dangers of energy drinks, like Monster, and should seek to limit their children’s intake of caffeine. All adults similarly should be aware of the amount of caffeine ingested daily.

Manufacturers have a duty to provide safe products to the public. When companies fail to disclose potential dangers or introduce dangerous products to the market, and someone is injured or killed, victims may be able to take action to hold all wrongdoers accountable. Lawsuits such as this not only compensate victims for the harms caused, but also motivate manufacturers to create safer products to avoid future litigation. Our product liability lawyers have represented consumers in all types of defective and dangerous lawsuits and are available to discuss potential lawsuits involving injuries caused by dangerous products such as energy drinks.