Monster Beverage Lawsuit Disputed; 'Caffeine Toxicity' Attacked

Tuesday, 05 Mar 2013 08:33 AM

By Michael Mullins

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A lawsuit claiming its popular energy drink was responsible for the death of a 14-year-old Maryland girl has brought out a new defense tactic from Monster Beverage Corp. – challenging the medical evidence that suggested caffeine played a role in her death.

On Monday, Monster's attorney, Daniel Callahan, accompanied by two physicians who were hired by the company to review the medical records in the deceased teen, Anais Fournier, announced that they were unable to find medical evidence suggesting caffeine played a role in her death.

"After an examination of Ms. Fournier's medical records, pathology report and autopsy report, the physicians stated conclusively that there is no medical, scientific or factual evidence to support the Maryland Medical Examiner's Report of 'caffeine toxicity' or that Ms. Fournier's consumption of two Monster Energy Drinks 24 hours apart contributed to, let alone was the cause of her untimely death," Callahan said.

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The attorney further questioned the credibility of the Maryland Medical Examiner's autopsy report, which had listed Fournier's cause of death as "cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity."

"When the Maryland Medical Examiner was asked why her report contained the term 'caffeine toxicity,' she responded that it was because she had been told by Ms. Fournier's mother that Ms. Fournier had consumed an energy drink containing caffeine," Mr. Callahan said. "This was even though her report states that blood tests for caffeine levels were not done."

Maryland's chief medical examiner spokesman would not confirm whether a caffeine blood test had been performed, telling the Huffington Post that the office does not comment on cases in litigation.

Callahan's argument was supported by emergency room physician Michael Forman, one of the doctors hired by Monster, who said: "'Why did she suddenly die' is the question? That question can never be answered with any certainty."

Kevin Goldberg, a lawyer for the Fournier family, told Reuters there were other symptoms of caffeine toxicity, though he refused to elaborate on them at this time.

"We have our experts and they have their experts," Goldberg said, adding that it was "not appropriate ... to litigate the case in the media."

Fournier, who had a pre-existing heart condition, reportedly consumed two Monster drinks within a 24-hour period. Hours after finishing the second, the girl went into cardiac arrest according to her mother.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced in October that it was investigating reports of five deaths possibly associated with Monster's namesake drink.

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As a result of the bad press brought on by the FDA investigation and likely the lawsuit, Monster Beverage Corp.'s stock has fallen from $78.72 last July to $49.81 on the Nasdaq on Tuesday.

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