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The “Monster” That Lurks Within Can Allegedly Be Deadly

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Oakland, CAAlex Morris was 19. An active young man, and part of a growing group of adolescents and young adults who have come to depend and perhaps thrive on the popular energy drinks that are sweeping the nation. At least for a time. Morris, according to Postmedia (6/26/13), would habitually drink two Monster Energy Drinks each day, a habit he reportedly maintained for three years. And then, on July 1 of last year, Morris died. Was it Monster caffeine levels that did him in?

His family thinks so, having launched a Monster Energy Drink Injury lawsuit June 25 in Alameda County Superior Court. According to court records, Morris’ family believes their son would not have died were it not for the energy drinks he consumed, including two on the day he died.

Morris was just 19 when he went into cardiac arrest during the early morning hours of July 1, 2012. He was later pronounced dead at the hospital. His name is now among those in headlines screaming Monster Energy Drink Deaths and Hospitalizations.

At the time of Morris’ death - and those of four others allegedly due to the consumption of Monster Energy drinks - the products were classified as “dietary supplements” within self-regulated guidelines maintained by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Monster Energy Corporation has since shifted the classification of its products to “food /beverage,” and will now begin to list actual amounts of ingredients - including levels of caffeine - on the product label. Such a detailed listing of contents is not required of dietary supplements.

However, in so doing, Monster is no longer required to voluntarily submit reports of adverse reactions to the FDA, reports Postmedia.

Energy drink manufacturers tend to steer toward the dietary supplement sector in an effort to protect and hide the specific formulation of its product from competitors. Such proprietary thinking is integral to marketing efforts, which, in the case of Monster, promotes its products as “lifestyle in a can.” By targeting the extreme sport sector - individuals who gravitate toward living life on the edge - a product can align itself with the ‘Xtreme” mentality and become a perquisite of that lifestyle.

But Monster drink contents, prior to the company’s re-classification, were very much a mystery. Consumers, while aware of caffeine in the product, would have no source for determining actual Monster caffeine levels in the product. Various health authorities have expressed concern over the impact of high caffeine levels on children, adolescents, young adults or anyone with an underlying heart condition.

Health advocates are lobbying for the FDA to tighten regulations on all energy drinks, in an effort to reduce deaths and other adverse reactions, including Monster Energy Drink injury. While the FDA continues to scrutinize the file, the agency notes that adverse event reports do not prove that energy drinks were the underlying cause of death.

That’s not good enough for Dennis Herrera, the attorney representing the city of San Francisco. He is suing Monster Beverage Corporation, alleging Monster is targeting children in its marketing efforts.

The plaintiff in the Morris case, Paula Morris, is the deceased teen’s biological mother. She claims, according to court records, that her son drank two 16-oz. cans of a Monster Energy drink in the 24 hours prior to his death. The case is Paula Morris v. Monster Beverage Corp., case number RG13685028, in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Alameda.


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