BROOKLYN (CN) - A man died of "toxic amounts of caffeine" from drinking a Red Bull energy drink and playing basketball - and he's not the first to die of it, his family claims in court.
Patricia Ann Terry, grandmother of the late Cory Terry, sued Red Bull North America in Kings County Supreme Court.
She claims her 33-year-old grandson died of cardiac arrest on Nov. 8, 2011 from drinking Red Bull and playing basketball.
In a few heavily footnoted pages, citing news reports but and medical journals, the lawsuit reels off a string of deaths attributed to drinking Red Bull before, during or after exercise.
According to the lawsuit:
18-year-old college student Ross Rooney died in Ireland from playing basketball after drinking Red Bull;
BBC News reported on July 12, 2011, that Swedish authorities were investigating Red Bull after three deaths: two people drank Red Bull with alcohol and one drank it after exercising;
"In or about February 2004, Europe's highest court upheld a French ban on Red Bull, citing health concerns over the energy drink," the complaint states;
A 40-year-old man from Oxford, England, ho regularly ingested Red Bull, died from cardiac arrest;
"On or about Aug. 15, 2008, Scott Willoughby, from the Cardiovascular Research Centre at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, published a study that showed 'that normal people develop symptoms normally associated with cardiovascular disease' after drinking Red Bull. Dr. Willoughby concluded that 'drinking just one can of Red Bull energy drink may be enough to increased dramatically the risk of developing life-threatening blood clots, even in young people.' ... He also concluded that '[i]f you get an increase in stickiness and a decreased ability of the blood vessels to stop its stickiness, that adds up to the bad situation,' and that '[i]f you add in other risk factors for cardiovascular disease - stress or high blood pressure - this could potentially be deadly.'"
The lawsuit also cites an Aug. 18, 2008 article in Clinical Autonomic Research, titled "'Reversible Postural Tachycardia Syndrome Duet to Inadvertent Overuse of Red Bull,' which outlined the following findings: 'Postural tachycardia syndrome associated with a vasovagal reaction was recorded in a young volleyball player after an excess intake of Red Bull as a refreshing energy drink. Considering the widespread use of Red Bull among young people who are often unaware of the drink's drug content, this case report suggests Red Bull is considered a possible cause of orthostatic intolerance.'"
The lawsuit cites other deaths and other articles linking Red Bull to deaths. It claims that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in November 2012 "posted 21 reports that had been filed with the agency since 2004 that mentioned Red Bull, including ones that involved hospitalizations for heart problems and vomiting."
By calling its drink a "diet supplement," not a "food," Red Bull ducks federal regulation, and "manufactures its Red Bull drinks without any restrictions on caffeine content," Terry says in the complaint. She claims the company knows of its significant health risks, but fails to warn consumers, in fact, that it "intentionally withheld, suppressed and concealed" the information about risks to health.
She seeks punitive damages for wrongful death, strict liability/defective design, failure to warn, negligence, fraud, and breach of implied warranty.
She is represented by Ilya Novofastovsky with the Novo Law Firm, of New York City.
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