MEMPHIS (CN) – A 27-year-old man had a sudden heart attack and later died from drinking the caffeinated 5-Hour Energy drink, his widow claims in a $165 million federal lawsuit. She says the drink’s manufacturers “refuse to reveal exactly what is in the product.”
Monica Hassell claims her husband, Antonio Hassell, 27, suffered a heart attack while playing basketball on Aug. 2, 2009. He was hospitalized and died seven months later.
She says Antonio’s doctors “noted in the medical records his use of energy drinks and identified energy drinks as the sole causative risk factor for his cardiac event.”
Antonio allegedly drank 5-Hour Energy to stay awake for his job as an “order puller” at a warehouse in Memphis. He first began drinking it last June, his widow claims.
Monica says 5-Hour Energy does not contain sugar and has no real “energy” ingredients.
“The principal ingredients of 5-Hour Energy are caffeine combined in an ‘energy blend’ with taurine, glucuronolactone, malic acid, N-acetyl, L-Tyrosine, L-phenylalanine and citicoline,” the lawsuit states.
But the product’s manufacturers and developers – Living Essentials, Bio Clinical Developers and inventor Manoj Bhargava – “refuse to reveal exactly what is in the product, saying only that it is about as much caffeine as in a cup of coffee,” according to the complaint.
Although caffeinated energy drinks have been linked to numerous health problems, Monica claims, they are largely unregulated in the United States.
“Concerns over the health risks of energy drinks have caused strong warnings and regulations throughout the world except, notably, in the United States,” where the drinks are sold “without research, studies, warnings or labeling to alert consumers of the true risks of these products,” the lawsuit states.
Monica says her husband would have steered clear of the drink had its makers “disclosed the true health consequences, risks, and adverse events, including the increased incidence and risk of strokes, blood clots, heart attacks, and other illnesses, caused by energy drinks containing caffeine, taurine and other ingredients in ‘5-Hour Energy.'”
She says 5-Hour Energy accounts for about 80 percent of the energy drink market, and its manufacturers spend $60 million a year on TV advertising.
She demands $15 million, plus $150 million in punitive damages, for wrongful death, personal injury, strict product liability and breach of implied warranty.
Her attorney is Corey Trotz with Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz.