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Monster Caffeine Drink|Killed Daughter, Parents Say

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (CN) - A teenage girl died of "caffeine toxicity" after drinking two 24-oz. Monster Energy drinks in two days, her parents claim in court.

Parents of the late Anais Fournier, who died Dec. 23, 2011, sued Monster Beverage Corp. in Superior Court.

"Monster Energy contains and relies primarily on massive amounts of caffeine," which "can be lethal in doses ranging from 200-400 milligrams," the parents say in their complaint. "One 24-oz. can of Monster Energy contains 240 milligrams of caffeine."

Monster pushes it product by promising "'increased energy and stamina, weight loss, and enhanced physical and/or mental performance,'" according to the complaint.

The parents, who live in Maryland, claim that on Dec. 16, 2011, Anais went with friends to a mall in Hagerstown, "where she purchased and consumed a 24-oz. Monster Energy from Gardner's Candies store, a retail establishment located within the complex."

"The following afternoon or evening, December 17, 2011, Anais went back to the mall and purchased and consumed another 24-oz. can of Monster Energy. In addition to other stimulants (some of which contain hidden amounts of additional caffeine), the two cans of Monster Energy, together, contained 480 milligrams of caffeine - the equivalent caffeine content of fourteen (14) 12-oz. cans of Coca-Cola," the complaint states. [Parentheses in complaint.]

"At approximately 8:55 p.m. on December 17, 2011, only a few hours after drinking the second Monster Energy, Anais Fournier went into cardiac arrest. Anais Fournier was unconscious when emergency personnel arrived at her home, at which time she was taken to the Meritus Medical Center before being transferred to Johns Hopkins Hospital.

"Doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital placed Anais Fournier in an induced coma in an effort to reduce brain swelling, a state in which she remained for nearly six (6) days until the decision was made to terminate life support. Anais Fournier never regained consciousness and was ultimately pronounced dead at 5:37 p.m. on December 23, 2011. According to the autopsy report and the death certificate, the cause of death was 'cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity complicating mitral valve regurgitation in the setting of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.'"

Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a genetic disorder characterized by extremely loose joints and easily damaged blood vessels, according to the National Institutes of Health website.

Anais' parents seek damages and punitive damages for product liability, failure to warn, negligence, fraud and wrongful death.

The claim that Monster Beverage "has successfully avoided meaningful regulation of its product by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. By classifying Monster Energy as a 'dietary supplement' - in other words, not a 'food' - defendant manufactures its Monster Energy drinks without any restrictions on caffeine content."

They also claim that Monster Energy drinks have inadequate labeling and what labeling is there "does nothing to attempt to warn of these severe health risks, as the cans utterly fail to provide adequate information as to the total caffeine content of the product."

The parents, Wendy Crossland and Richard, are represented by Alexander Wheeler, with the R. Rex Parris Law Firm, of Lancaster, and by Kevin Goldberg of Silver Spring, Md.

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