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Death of Teenager Prompts Second California Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against Monster Beverage Corporation

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Silver Spring, MD (Press Release)Family Seeks Answers, Accountability from Manufacturer; and Hopes to Prevent Future Deaths Due to Energy Drink Consumption By Adolescents. 19-year-old Alex Morris (pictured) suffered a cardiac arrest and died on July 1, 2012. The Alameda County, California Coroner determined that the cause of death was cardiac arrhythmia and cardiomyopathy. The autopsy and toxicity reports confirm that there were no illegal drugs or alcohol involved. Alex consumed at least two 16 oz. cans of Monster Energy Drink in the 24 hours preceding his death, and at least two 16 oz. cans of Monster Energy Drink per day during the three years preceding his death. He started consuming Monster Energy Drink on a regular basis when he was a minor.

The lawsuit was filed by the same team of lawyers that filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family of Anais Fournier, a 14-year-old girl who died after consuming Monster Energy Drinks in December 2011. The team includes Kevin Goldberg (Past President of Maryland Association for Justice), of Goldberg, Finnegan & Mester, LLC; Alexander Wheeler and Jason Fowler at the R. Rex Parris Law Firm; and Michael Brown, Michael Blumenfeld and Joe Hovermill at Miles & Stockbridge P.C.

“Our team is committed to holding energy drink companies accountable for the injuries and deaths that their products are causing to young people,” said Goldberg. “We believe that it is important to get the word out to the public, and especially to parents of young people, that energy drinks can be lethal, particularly to anyone with an undiagnosed, underlying heart condition. The lawsuit alleges strict product liability, failure to warn and negligence in the design, sale and manufacturing of the product, among other claims.”

The lawsuit was brought in Alameda County, California, by Alex Morris’s biological mother, Paula Morris, who explains that “it is hard for all of Alex’s family and friends to relive the terrible moments of his death, but we cannot be silent while more seemingly-healthy young adults like Alex are putting their lives at risk, and we do not want any other parents to experience the devastation of losing their child.” Ms. Morris explained that in his too short life, he had an incredible impact on all those who knew him. “Alex was compassionate, funny, smart, but most of all he lived a life full of love and courage. He was always there for his friends in hard times, and always spoke out for what was right. We know that he would be beside us now calling on Monster to be held accountable, and advocating for more research and regulation of these drinks.” Alex is survived by family members Paula Morris, Harvey Yaw and Cory Pohley.

Alex was born and raised in San Francisco where City Attorney, Dennis Herrera, recently sued Monster Beverage Corporation for marketing to kids, and said “Monster Energy is unique among energy drink makers for the extent to which it targets children and youth in its marketing despite the known risks its products pose to young people’s health and safety.”

Despite a continuing barrage of mounting scientific evidence that Energy Drinks are dangerous, they continue to be marketed and sold to teenagers and young adults, without any significant regulation by the Food & Drug Administration. Recent evidence includes the following:

• (i) The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a Clinical Report in May 2011 advising that Energy Drinks pose potential health risks because of the stimulants they contain, and should never be consumed by children or adolescents.

• (ii) The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration reported that emergency department visits involving energy drinks increased ten-fold between 2005 and 2009, and doubled from 10,068 in 2007 to 20, 783 in 2011.

• (iii) The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Adverse event reports indicate that as many as 5 deaths may possibly be linked to the consumption of Monster Energy Drink from just April 2009 to May, 2012.

• (iv) A study done by the American Heart Association suggests that consumption of energy drinks can alter the heart rhythm (QT rhythm), cause serious irregular heartbeats, or sudden cardiac death.

• (v) In March 2013 numerous doctors and scientists wrote a letter to the FDA urging that the FDA take prompt action to protect children and adolescents from the dangers of highly caffeinated energy drinks.

• (vi) In April 2013 U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey issued a report titled “What’s all the Buzz About” which concluded, among other things, that energy drink companies should stop marketing products to children/teens and provide better labeling.

• (vii) On June 19, 2013 the American Medical Association adopted a policy supporting a ban on the marketing of energy drinks to children under 18.

“Despite the onslaught of scientific evidence that energy drinks are dangerous, the FDA has not taken meaningful action to ban the sale and marketing of energy drinks to young people,” said Goldberg. Monster Beverage Corporation seems to target their marketing at teens and young adults.

“Nothing can bring Alex back, but we can tell the world that these drinks can be harmful, and our hope is that discovery in this case will shed light on Monster Beverage Corporation’s practices regarding how they market to teenagers, and what they do or do not tell the public and FDA about the safety of their products,” added Goldberg.

Pictured: Victim Alex Morris


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