Mother sues Monster Beverages over death of son, 19, ‘who suffered heart attack after drinking two energy drinks every day for three years’
- Maryland teenager Alex Morris went into cardiac arrest in July last year
- He drank two cans of Monster energy drink every day for three years, including on the day of his death
- Lawsuit filed by same attorneys representing Anais Fournier, a 14-year-old girl who died after drinking two cans of drink in 2011
- Monster has maintained that its drinks have safe levels of caffeine
By Lydia Warren
The mother of a teenager who died after going into cardiac arrest last year is suing Monster Beverage Corp., claiming his death was caused by the company’s caffeinated energy drink.
Alex Morris, 19, from Silver Spring, Maryland, suffered cardiac arrest during the early morning hours of July 1 and was later pronounced dead in hospital.
His mother, Paula Morris, is now suing the drinks company, claiming her son drank two cans a day every day for the three years leading up to his death, as well as on the day he died.
Her lawyers previously filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family of Anais Fournier, a 14-year-old girl who died in 2011 after consuming two 24-ounce cans of the drink in a day.
‘Our allegations in the lawsuits are the same and that’s the peoples deaths were caused by these energy drinks and, more specifically, the defendants failure to warn about the dangers,’ said Alexander Wheeler, an attorney representing the plaintiffs in both cases.
‘Consumers need to know that these energy drinks can be dangerous, and even lethal, especially to young people and people with heart problems.
Following Alex’s death, the Alameda County Coroner determined that his cause of death was cardiac arrhythmia and cardiomyopathy.
ARE THEY SAFE? MONSTER DRINKS UNDER FIRE FOR CAFFEINE LEVELS
Monster and other energy drinks have received increased scrutiny in recent months. The Food and Drug Administration is investigating reports of deaths linked to energy drinks, including five that cite Monster beverages, but the agency noted that the reports don’t prove the drinks caused the deaths. The agency also has been investigating at least 13 deaths linked to 5-hour Energy drink.
Monster has previously said its target market is 18 to 34 years old but that its drinks are nevertheless safe for children as well.
It has stood by the safety of its drinks, which it says contain 240 milligrams of caffeine for a 24-ounce can, compared with 330 milligrams in a 16-ounce cup of Starbucks coffee.
Monster’s current label says drinkers should limit themselves to one can every four hours and a maximum of three per day. It also says the drink isn’t recommended for children, people sensitive to caffeine, pregnant women or women who are nursing.
But San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has pointed out that three cans amount to 480 milligrams of caffeine, nearly five times the recommended maximum for adolescents and above the 400 milligrams per day the FDA has indicated is safe for adults.
The autopsy and toxicity reports found no illegal drugs or alcohol in his system.
A cardiac arrhythmia is an electrical problem with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat, meaning it can beat too slow or too fast.
When this occurs, the heart may not pump enough blood to the brain and other organs, which could result in the loss of consciousness or death.
Speaking with the Globe Newswire, Paula Morris remembered her son as ‘compassionate, funny, smart… he lived a life full of love and courage’ – and she said they would not stop fighting for him.
‘It is hard for all of Alex’s family and friends to relive the terrible moments of his death,’ she said. ‘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.’
Monster representatives did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Monster has previously said its target market is for 18 to 34 year olds but that its drinks are nevertheless safe for children as well.
It said that in Fournier’s case, no blood test was performed to confirm she died of ‘caffeine toxicity’ as the suit claimed, saying she died of natural causes brought on by pre-existing conditions.
The cause of death on her autopsy report was ‘cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity complicating mitral valve regurgitation in the setting of Ehler’s-Danlos syndrome’ – a heart condition.
The company also said that evidence obtained as part of the lawsuit’s discovery process shows Anais regularly had energy drinks and frequented Starbucks without incident.
Deaths: Morris died months after the death of 14-year-old Anais Fournier, who also consumed Monster energy drinks. Her family is also suing the company, claiming that it is responsible for her death
Monster has stood by the safety of its drinks, which it says contain 240 milligrams of caffeine for a 24-ounce can, compared with 330 milligrams in a 16-ounce cup of Starbucks coffee.
Monster and other energy drinks have received increased scrutiny in recent months. The Food and Drug Administration is investigating reports of deaths linked to energy drinks, including five that cite Monster beverages, but the agency noted that the reports don’t prove the drinks caused the deaths.
San Francisco city attorney Dennis Herrera is also suing Monster Beverage for marketing its energy drinks to children, saying the products pose severe health risks.
‘Energy drinks contain massive and excessive amounts of caffeine that may lead to a host of health problems in young people, including heart problems, and banning companies from marketing these products to adolescents is a common sense action that we can take to protect the health of American kids,’ AMA board member Dr. Alexander Ding said in a June 18 statement.