Anais had drunk two 24-oz. Monster Energy drinks in a 24-hour period, up to just hours before her death. Combined, the two drinks contained 480 milligrams of caffeine, the equivalent of almost 14 cans of cola. The FDA requires that soft drinks contain no more than 71.5 mg of caffeine per 12 oz drink. However, the caffeine content of so-called “energy drinks” such as Red Bull, Rockstar and Monster Energy is not regulated by the FDA because it is considered a “dietary supplement” and not a food and not subject to the FDA’s caffeine restrictions. These energy drinks also contain guarana and taurine, stimulants that contain caffeine or produce similar effects on the cardiac muscles.
The R. Rex Parris Law Firm of Lancaster, California filed suit on behalf of the family on October 17th against Monster Energy for failing to warn about the product’s dangers. The case was filed in the Superior Court of California for the County of Riverside, Case No. RIC 1215551, Wendy Crossland and Richard Fournier, as surviving parents of Anais Fournier v. Monster Beverage Corporation. Among other claims, the lawsuit alleges strict product liability, failure to warn and negligence in the design, sale and manufacturing of the product. “These energy drinks contain highly dangerous levels of caffeine and can be extremely harmful, but these grave health dangers are not clearly marked on the cans,” said Alexander R. Wheeler, a lawyer at the R. Rex Parris Law Firm. “Anais’s family wants to make sure another family doesn’t have to endure the same tragedy as they have.”
Wendy Crossland, Anais’ mother, said: “I was shocked to learn the FDA can regulate caffeine in a can of soda, but not these huge energy drinks. With their bright colors and names like Monster, Rockstar, and Full Throttle, these drinks are targeting teenagers with no oversight or accountability. These drinks are death traps for young, developing girls and boys, like my daughter, Anais. Nothing will replace the love and vitality of Anais. I just want Monster Energy to know their product can kill. I want Anais’ life to send a loud and clear message to today’s youth that energy drinks can kill. I would like nothing more than to have these drinks regulated by the FDA and ban the sale to minors.”
In the eight years between 2004 and 2012, sales of energy drinks have gone up 240%, and the FDA has reported six deaths and 18 hospitalizations associated with Monster Energy drinks. A report issued last year by the U.S. Department of Health and Services cited ten times as many emergency room visits associated with energy drinks between 2004 and 2009, totaling more than 16,000 visits in 2008 alone, leading some states such as Virginia to ban the use of the drinks during student athletic events.
“Monster, with their targeted marketing practices and promotion of energy drinks to teenagers, put profits over the safety of America’s youth,” said Kevin I. Goldberg, of Goldberg, Finnegan, and Mester, in Silver Spring, Maryland, a lawyer also representing the family. “Nothing can bring Anais back, but we can tell the world these energy drinks are harmful. Our hope is discovery in this case will shed light on Monster Corporation’s practices regarding what they do or do not tell the public and FDA about the safety of their products.” Attorney Goldberg will be appearing pro hac vice in the case, along with Baltimore attorneys Michael A. Brown, Joseph W. Hovermill and Michael E. Blumenfeld of Miles & Stockbridge, P.C.
Fourteen-year-old Anais passed away December 23, 2011. She was an organ donor and her last acts were to save the life of a 40-year-old woman through the gifts of her kidney and pancreas, and giving sight to the blind through donation of her corneas. She is survived by her parents, her twin brother, Dorian, and younger sister, Jade.