In June 2009, a 27-year-old man suffered a heart attack while playing basketball. Antonio Hassell spent several months in the hospital before he died in March 2010. His family filed a wrongful-death suit in federal court, claiming he died because he consumed 5-hour energy drinks to help stay alert for his night-shift warehouse job. The lawsuit says that Hassell's physicians blamed the energy drink for his heart attack, which eventually led to acute respiratory failure and pneumonia—and death.
Energy Drinks—More Harm than Good?
The 5-hour energy drink maker, Living Essentials and Bio Clinical Development Inc., isn't alone in its deceptive advertising and marketing tactics, nor is it the only company that has been slapped with a lawsuit over its deceptive health claims.
The recent wrongful death lawsuit says that Living Essentials refuses to disclose the exact ingredients in their product, saying only that it contains "about as much caffeine as in a cup of coffee." The suit argues that the defendants should have disclosed medical information about the drink, including side effects and the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Meanwhile, new research suggests that another product, FRS energy drink, may be linked to cancer.
Energy Drink Deceptive Health Claims
The Washington-based Center for Science in the Public Interest filed a class class-action lawsuit against Coca-Cola, accusing the biggest beverage maker in the world of deceptive advertising over its VitaminWater. The group said the product is basically sugar water, yet Coca-Cola claims it has vitamins that boost immunity and reduce the risk of disease.
VitaminWater uses words such as defense, rescue, energy and endurance in its marketing. But according to the bottle labels, the drinks' top three ingredients are water, cane sugar and crystalline fructose. The 20-ounce bottle has roughly 33 grams of sugar, compared with about 39 grams in a typical 12-ounce soft drink.
READ MORE FRS HEALTHY ENERGY LEGAL NEWS
In 2007, the non-profit group Center for Science in the Public Interest filed a lawsuit against Coke and Nestlé over claims that their artificially sweetened green-tea drink Enviga would help you lose weight.
How many lawsuits will it take before the FDA cracks down on companies that continually dupe the public—from weight loss claims to immunity support? How many more wrongful death lawsuits need to be filed before these "energy drinks" will be required to contain medical information on the labels, including side effects and the risk of heart attacks and strokes? Perhaps in the near future, energy drinks will come with black box warnings…