In its latest effort to evade responsibility for its products’ harmful consequences, Monster Beverage Corp. attempted to get a lawsuit against it moved to federal court in order to be tried under less stringent laws. Then, the energy giant moved to have the case thrown out.
Chief US District Judge George H. King did not pay heed to the energy drink company, and tossed the lawsuit back to the California State Courts where it originated on Jan. 15, 2016.
Background on the Case
The plaintiff, Michael Marsh, alleges that Monster failed to properly label its energy drinks with the amount of caffeine they contain. As a result, Mr. Marsh began drinking four Monster Energy drinks a day over the course of eighteen months, and was left with permanent heart damage. Marsh contends that he would not have consumed so much had he known the amount of caffeine the drink contained.
Why Did Monster Want its Case Tried in Federal Court?
Before 2013, Monster was classified as a dietary supplement instead of a beverage. Why, you might ask, if the company’s name has “beverage” in the title? Per FDA regulations, supplement labels only need to list ingredients, not quantities. Conventional foods or beverages are required to list the quantities of ingredients on a Nutrition Facts label.
Monster sought to move the case to federal court for this reason. Had it stayed in federal court, Monster would have claimed that the lawsuit should be dismissed on the grounds that federal regulations published by the FDA don’t require dietary supplements to have the quantity of each ingredient on the supplement facts panel.
Monster began to market its products as conventional food instead of dietary supplements in 2013 and joined the American Beverage Association. The ABA, however, only provides voluntary guidelines.
How Dangerous is Monster?
This is not the first time that Monster has been accused of faulty labeling. In 2015 alone, Monster settled three cases in which people claimed that the drink caused the death of their loved ones. Monster has never acknowledged any connection between its drink and those deaths.
The claims made against these companies largely contend that the drinks are not labeled with warnings expressing the dangers of caffeine when consumed in large quantities. A study on energy drinks conducted at the University of California Davis estimated that a regular can of Monster had two to three 8 oz. ounce servings of 80mg of caffeine. A typical 8 oz. cup of coffee has 100mg of caffeine.
The typical cup of coffee might seem comparable to energy drinks in terms of caffeine content; after all what coffee drinker limits themselves to just eight ounces a day? However, the problem lies in the fact that energy drinks contain many other ingredients as well as caffeine, often in unspecified “energy blends.” Often, a significant supplement in energy drinks is guarana, which is known to contain high concentrations of caffeine. It is estimated that 1g of guarana contains up to 47mg of caffeine, which would add to the 80mg per serving of pure caffeine that are already in the beverage.
Guarana is not the only ingredient commonly found in energy drinks. Many other hard to pronounce and obscure ingredients find their way into these drinks, though less is known regarding their caffeine content. Not to mention the health risks associated with the high level of sugar content in energy beverages, which typically include anywhere from 26mg – 31mg of sugar per serving.
The typical adult can safely consume up to 400mg of caffeine a day. More than this puts a person’s health at risk with adverse effects including sleeplessness, abnormal heart rhythms, decreased bone levels, and an upset stomach, just to name a few. Yet, despite knowing that more than 400mg of caffeine is dangerous to a person’s health, energy drinks that contain caffeine as the main component are not labeled as potentially hazardous, while encouraging consumers to “pound down.” What’s more, the energy drink industry gets to largely self-police. As mentioned previously, Monster is now labeling its drinks as conventional foods and putting Nutritional Facts on the cans. However, even if the exact amount is known, testing of the mixture of all of the ingredients in these drinks is still necessary.
The fact that energy drinks have not been thoroughly tested is a recipe for disaster in an energy-starved workforce in which energy drinks are consumed as a more efficient or palatable alternative to coffee.
Join the Fight Against Energy Drink Companies
Monster is not the only energy drink company that has faced lawsuits over its labeling. Fellow industry giants Red Bull and Rockstar have had consumers file lawsuits on the basis that their drinks are potentially dangerous, and not labeled as such.
The courts seem to agree that a conversation on the contents of these drinks needs to take place, as evident from the federal judge’s decision to send the case against Monster back to state court.
If you’ve consumed Monster or another energy drink and suffered severed side effects, don’t wait to call us. You may be entitled to compensation for damages caused by consuming the caffeinated concoctions.