Sex on Energy Drink Proved Fatal, Mom Says

     OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) – A teenager died having sex with his girlfriend after drinking two Monster Energy drinks, his mother claims in court.
     Paula Morris sued Monster Beverage Corp. and Monster Energy Co. in Alameda County Court for the wrongful death of her son, Alex Morris, who was 19. He died of a heart attack caused by the “ingestion of a toxic amount of caffeine and other stimulants,” Morris says in the complaint.
     “During the twenty-four (24) hours prior to his death in the early morning of July 1, 2012, 19-year-old Alex Morris consumed at least two (2) 16-oz. cans of Monster Energy drinks. During the preceding three (3) years, Alex regularly and routinely consumed at least two (2) Monster Energy drinks per day, with total daily consumption of Monster Energy drinks during this time period ranging from at least 32 oz. to 64 oz. per day,” Alex’s mother says in the complaint.
     “While engaged in sexual activity with his girlfriend during the early morning hours of July 1, 2012, Alex collapsed, went into cardiac arrest, and became unresponsive and pulseless. Alex’s girlfriend and his roommate unsuccessfully attempted CPR prior to the arrival of the paramedics, who found Alex in ventricular fibrillation upon their arrival. Alex was transported to Kaiser Permanente Hospital-Oakland, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy report identifies Alex’s cause of death as ‘cardiac arrhythmia due to cardiomyopathy,” the complaint states.
     Cardiomyopathy causes the heart muscle to become rigid or enlarged, weakening its ability to pump blood and keep a steady rhythm, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s website.
     Morris claims Monster Energy loads its drinks with “massive amounts of caffeine” though it knows that excessive caffeine consumption can cause many health problems, including heart arrhythmia.
     Numerous studies show that consuming 200-400 milligrams of caffeine a day can be deadly, especially for teens and young adults, and a 16-oz. can of Monster Energy drink has at least 320 milligrams of caffeine, according to the complaint.
     “In addition to caffeine, Monster Energy drinks contain guarana and taurine. Guarana is a plant extract that contains caffeine. Taurine has an effect on cardiac muscles similar to that of caffeine. Studies have shown that the synergistic effect of caffeine, guarana, taurine and/or other like substances can produce significant adverse health effects, including cardiac arrest,” the complaint states.
     Despite the risks of caffeine overdose, Morris says, Monster Energy refuses to list caffeine content on its drink labels and deliberately markets them to teens and young adults, “the individuals most susceptible to caffeine-related injury.”
     Monster Energy made $1.3 billion in 2011 from its Monster Energy drinks, which are just one sector of many in its “vast collection of energy drink products,” the complaint states.
     Morris claims Monster conceals the risks associated with drinking its products through misleading advertisements, labels and promotions that assure consumers they are safe.
     “Despite defendants’ representations to the contrary, the Monster Energy drinks consumed by Alex Morris were not safe or fit for the use for which they were intended,” the complaint states.
     Morris claims that Monster markets its drinks as “energy supplements” so it can duck FDA regulations and cram its products with more caffeine than beverages can legally contain.
     Morris claims her son would not have drunk two Monster Energy drinks a day for three years if Monster had “properly disclosed and warned of the significant risk of suffering adverse cardiac episodes, including cardiac arrhythmias, due to consumption of Monster Energy, a product containing exorbitant levels of caffeine, taurine and guarana.”
     She seeks punitive damages for wrongful death, product liability, negligence, fraudulent concealment and other charges. She also seeks medical expenses and funeral costs.
     She is represented by Alexander Wheeler with the R. Rex Parris Law Firm in Lancaster, and Kevin Goldberg with Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester of Silver Spring, Md.

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