Teenager Anais Fournier was at home watching a movie when she went into cardiac arrest last December. Unconscious, Anais was rushed to the hospital. In an effort to save her life, doctors put Anais in an induced coma to reduce the brain swelling. Six days later she was removed from life support. The cause of death was caffeine toxicity according her doctors, the autopsy and death certificate.
Anais had consumed two 24-oz. Monster Energy drinks in a 24-hour period, the last drink just hours prior to her death. The two drinks combined are believed to have contained approximately 480 milligrams of known caffeine, the equivalent of almost 14 cans of Coca-Cola.
The FDA requires soft-drinks contain no more than .02% or 71.5 mg per 12 oz of caffeine. However, Monster Energy's caffeine content is not regulated by the FDA because it is considered a "dietary supplement," and not a food, subject to FDA's caffeine restrictions, and the 24 ounce cans of Monster Energy do not specifically disclose the amount of caffeine.
In addition to caffeine, like many other energy drinks, Monster Energy contains guarana and taurine, stimulants that contain caffeine or produce similar effects on the cardiac muscles. Monster Energy Drink also contains Panax Ginseng which is an herbal supplement that, according to the National Institute of Health's Medline Website, should not be consumed with caffeine.
The family filed a lawsuit today against Monster Energy for failing to warn about the product's dangers. The case was filed in California Superior Court (Riverside County). The Case Caption is Wendy Crossland and Richard Fournier, individually and as surviving parents of Anais Fournier v. Monster Beverage Corporation, Case No. RIC 1215551.
"I was shocked to learn the FDA can regulate caffeine in a can of soda, but not these huge energy drinks," said Anais' mother Wendy Crossland. "With their bright colors and names like Monster, Rockstar, and Full Throttle, these drinks are targeting teenagers with no oversight or accountability. These drinks are death traps for young, developing girls and boys, like my daughter, Anais."
"Nothing will replace the love and vitality of Anais. I just want Monster Energy to know their product can kill," added Crossland.
According to the Center for Food Safety Adverse Event Reporting System at the FDA, there have been six deaths and 15 hospitalizations reported associated with Monster Energy since 2009.
According to a November, 2011 report by the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), there has been a tenfold increase in emergency department visits associated with energy drinks between 2004 and 2009, totaling more than 16,000 visits in 2008, and sales have increased 240 percent during the same period.
In fact, in 2010, the state of Virginia banned the use of energy drinks such as Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar by student-athletes during high school football practices and games after noticing an increase in emergency room visits associated with the products.
"Monster, with their targeted marketing practices and promotion of energy drinks to teenagers, put profits over the safety of America's youth," said attorney Kevin Goldberg, of Goldberg, Finnegan, and Mester, in Silver Spring, Maryland. "Nothing can bring Anais back, but we can tell the world these energy drinks are harmful." Kevin Goldberg was the 2009-2010 President of the Maryland Association for Justice, and is one of the attorneys representing Anais Fournier's parents.
"Our hope is discovery in this case will shed light on Monster Corporation's practices regarding what they do or do not tell the public and FDA about the safety of their products," added Goldberg. The lawsuit alleges strict product liability, failure to warn and negligence in the design, sale and manufacturing of the product, among other claims.
"I want Anais' life to send a loud and clear message to today's youth that energy drinks can kill," added Crossland. "I would like nothing more than to have these drinks regulated by the FDA and ban the sale to minors."
Anais had believed organ donation was important. Her right kidney and pancreas were able to save the life of a woman in her forties. Her left kidney and liver saved a retired male nurse in his sixties. Her corneas were able to give two people who were blind the gift of sight. Just fourteen years old, Anais passed away December 23, 2011 and is survived by her parents, her twin brother, Dorian, and younger sister, Jade.
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