Key Trial Involving Monster Energy Drinks Coming In April

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The fatal heart attack suffered by Alex Morris, a young and otherwise healthy 19-year-old male in 2012, is alleged to have been triggered by consumption of a Monster Energy drink. Online Legal Media senior writer Brenda Craig speaks with attorney Jacob Karczewski, of the R. Rex Parris Law Firm about the case, and the alleged potential dangers posed by energy drinks to the youth of America

The energy drink phenomenon has grown in popularity over the past few years. According to industry trade publication Food Product Design, the US market for energy drinks has experienced 60 percent growth from 2008 to 2012 and is on track to become a $21 billion business by 2017.1 Additionally, Pediatrics reports that energy drinks are increasingly consumed by younger people, with approximately 30 percent of adolescents under 18 years old reporting regular use.2

While the energy drink market has grown, however, so has concern over potential side effects of drinking the high-caffeine beverages, as well as concern over who the 'energy drinks' are marketed to--as highlighted in the recent report, "Buzz Kill: A Survey of Popular Energy Drinks Finds Majority of the Market Unwilling to Make Commitments to Protect Adolescents", presented by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), (12/31/14). The report states that, "While energy drink companies have repeatedly claimed that their target consumers are adults, four of the 12 responding companies—constituting over 90 percent of the energy drink market—refused to commit to not marketing to youth under age 18."3

The reason why there is concern over the marketing to adolescents is reflected in a recent study presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions in November, 2014. According to the study, "more than 40 percent of reports to the National Poison Data System for "energy drink exposure" in a three year span involved children under 6 years of age. Additionally, the effects of the energy drinks in the reported cases included abnormal heart rhythms and seizures."4

With that as a backdrop, there is also a Monster energy drink alleged wrongful death lawsuit heading to trial in April, 2015. The case is Paula Morris v. Monster Beverage Corp, Case Number RG13685028, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Alameda.5

Senior correspondent, Brenda Craig, of Online Legal Media recently interviewed attorney Jacob Karczewski, of the R. Rex Parris Law Firm about the case. Karczewski represents the Morris family in the alleged Monster Energy wrongful death lawsuit.

According to the filed court documents, [Morris] began drinking Monster Beverage products as a child. says Karczewski of the California law firm R. Rex Parris, which is representing Alex’s family in a wrongful death lawsuit. “The court filing alleges that consuming these drink products over the long term can lead to cardiomyopathy or an enlarged heart, making you more susceptible to acute cardiac events or a cardiac arrhythmia,” Karczewski told Online Legal Media’s Brenda Craig.

The trial begins in April. A previous case against the energy drink manufacturer last summer in Oklahoma was settled for an undisclosed amount. As reported in The Oklahomian, the Monster lawsuit was "settled on Aug. 1, according to Bryan County District Court records. The civil jury trial started July 21. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed."6 Karczewski wonders if the Oklahoma settlement serves as an indication as to how future cases brought against the Monster Beverage Company will play out, including the upcoming trial in April.

“Given that Monster settled in the Oklahoma case, [the pending trial in April] may be the first real chance to see what Monster Beverage really has to say about the safety of the drinks they’re selling,” Karczewski said.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is an adjunct of the US Department of Health & Human Services. The former operates the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN), a public health surveillance system.In a DAWN report7 dated January 10th of 2013, SAMHSA referenced energy drinks as “a continuing public health concern.

“The total amount of caffeine in a can or bottle of energy drink varies from 80 to 500 milligrams (mg), compared with about 100 mg in a 5-ounce cup of coffee.” The report authors went on to say that “scientific evidence documents harmful health effects of energy drinks, particularly for children.” 7

The upcoming Monster lawsuit trial is set to begin in April, at Alameda County Court, in California.

1 "Energy Drink Sales will Skyrocket to $21 billion by 2017", February 4, 2013,
foodproductdesign.com/news/2013/02/energy-drink-sales-will-skyrocket-to-21-billion-b.aspx

2 Seifert, S. M., Schaechter, J. L., Hershorin, E. R., & Lipshultz, S. E. (2011). Health effects of energy drinks on children, adolescents, and young adults. Pediatrics, 127(3), 511-528.

3"Buzz Kill: A Survey of Popular Energy Drinks Finds Majority of the Market Unwilling to Make Commitments to Protect Adolescents", presented by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass), Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), (12/31/14), markey.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/2014-12-30-Report_BuzzKill_EnergyDrinks_ScreenV.pdf

4"Poison control data show energy drinks and young kids don't mix", American Heart Association Meeting Report Abstract 14841, November 16, 2014, newsroom.heart.org/news/poison-control-data-show-energy-drinks-and-young-kids-dont-mix?preview=505b

5Court document: lawyersandsettlements.com/pdf/Morris%20v%20Monster.pdf

6 "Oklahoma woman, Monster Beverage Corp reach settlement following son's heart attack", The Oklahomian, August 7, 2014, http://newsok.com/oklahoma-woman-monster-beverage-corp-reach-settlement-following-sons-heart-attack/article/5137156

7 Update on Emergency Department Visits Involving Energy Drinks: A Continuing Public Health Concern, The Dawn Report, January 10th, 2013.

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