Monster Energy Drink Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over Marketing

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By: Irvin Jackson | Published: January 2nd, 2013

A California man has filed a class action lawsuit against the makers of Monster energy drinks, alleging they advertise the highly caffeinated beverage as though it were a conventional drink, despite classifying it as a dietary supplement to dodge FDA regulations. 

The Monster Energy Drink class action lawsuit (PDF) was filed by Alec Fisher on December 12, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

The complaint names Monster Beverage Corporation and Monster Energy Company as defendants, seeking class action status to represent all individuals who have purchased the companies’ energy drinks.

Dietary Supplement Label Helps Monster Dodge FDA Rules

Monster energy drinks are classified as a dietary supplement, which allows the manufacturer to avoid FDA regulation. The designation also allows the manufacturer to sell the energy drink without listing the ingredients or conforming to other food safety regulations.

According to the lawsuit, Monster energy drinks are promoted as though they are a standard soft-drink or beverage, which leads to the assumption by consumers that there is federal oversight into the manufacture and composition. Because of the dietary supplement designation, the FDA has not required testing for the highly caffeinated energy drink to establish that it is safe for consumers.

“Monster Energy Drinks, in fact, contain a dangerously high amount of caffeine that have never been subjected to any kind of pre-market review by any regulatory authority prior to them being put in the stream of commerce,” the lawsuit states. “Numerous scientific studies have shown that the consumption of large amounts of caffeine, in combination with other active ingredients like guarana, taurine, carnitine, sugar, among others, by youth and adolescents can have serious health consequences. Yet, Defendants knowingly and with reckless indifference, market, advertise and sell Monster Energy Drinks as completely safe via playful/seductive advertising designed to attract pre-teens and teens and via product placement.”

The lawsuit notes Monster promotions include bikini-clad models hawking youth-oriented clothing and accessories. Marketing also encourages the consumption of large amounts of Monster energy drinks so that consumers can collect can tabs to trade for gear.

Energy Drinks Industry Investigated

Monster Energy and other competing products, such as Red Bull, Rockstar and 5 Hour Energy, combine high amounts of caffeine with other stimulants, such as guarana and taurine, to increase energy and stamina.  However, concerns have emerged in recent years about the side effects of energy drinks, which contain 240 milligrams of caffeine in a 24 ounce can.

Prior research has suggested that caffeine overdose can result in heart attacks, cardiac arrhythmias and death after doses ranging from 200 to 400 milligrams, and Monster Energy drinks are aggressively promoted to teens and young adults, who often consume multiple cans in short periods of time to provide a “caffeine buzz” or induced burst of energy.

The FDA has received at least 37 adverse event reports involving Monster drinks since 2004, including at least five deaths reported over the past year and a sixth reported in 2009. The latest lawsuit comes as California officials pressure Monster to prove some of the claims of safety it has made regarding its products.

In October, a Monster Energy wrongful death lawsuit was filed by the family of a 14 year old girl who died from a cardiac arrest that was allegedly caused by a caffeine overdose after consuming two 24 ounce cans within a 24 hour period.

The class action lawsuit over Monster Energy points out that marketing claims suggest that users cannot drink too much, despite the risks of caffeine overdose. The company’s advertising also claims the drink gives an energy “buzz” that suggests it has the effects of an alcoholic beverage.

Photo Courtesy of stevendepolo / CC by 2.0

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There Are 9 Comments So Far • (Add Your Comments)

  1. I think people need to be aware that it is not just the caffeine causing serious medical problems, but also the artificial sweeteners used in these products. I know from personal experience.
    Shortly after developing a “blue” Monster addiction, I had my first grand mal seizure, approximately five years ago,
    I thought I might not make it. I slept for days, I was so sick and disoriented I was able to abandon this”Monster”, and I hope It will soon be unavailable. However, not soon enough. I realize that I am suffering some apparently permanent brain damage.
    I have no doubt that these drinks , (particularly the artificially sweetened), caused me personal, physical damage, and are extremely detrimental to every ones health. Especially our youths.
    I know I made a mistake, and I have learned the hard way. I do wish that this drink would not have been available to me. Particularly the artificially sweetened.
    In fact there are many such products, foods that kill.
    It shows once again that most of these “entities” care more for profit, than for people.

  2. It is the consumers responsibility to read the can and decide if you want it or not. it says right on the can not to drink monster if you are sensitive to caffeine and the amount of sugar that’s put in there. Theres always somebody trying to sue big companies for the big payoff. Nobody is putting a gun to your head to drink Monster. You made the choice to drink it,so put the blame where it belongs,on yourself.

  3. Has anyone out there been approached to advertise for monster energy drinks? (auto wraps)

  4. I have been drinking the Monster energy drinks since around 2001 or so, actually started on Rockstars, but liked the flavors better that were offered by Monster. I am in my late 40\’s now, and still drink the Monster energy drinks on a pretty regular basis, having about 1 can a day, and occasionally will have a second. I am in great health, and my employment has annual screenings to promote healthier living, invloving cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and hearing evaluations. Some few years back, I did make a conscience effort to cut down the amount of Sugars I was drinking and that included less soda Pop, and I migrated to the lower or No Carb No Sugar versions offered. I have had no adverse side effects from drinking energy drinks, other than the day I was stupid enough to drink 3 of them, I got jittery and anxious, but that\’s something that I caused myself, just as if I was to read the label on some alcoholic drink and then WILLFULLY drink more than I should, there is no cure for stupidity, and I am Really tired of all the backlash that is thrown around about the Monster and Rockstar drinks, why don\’t you Nay sayers just shut the F\’ up ?!? YOU apparently have NO PROBLEM dropping $8 on a freaking double expresso latte mocha Grande at the Flippin STARBUCKS before you start Your workday, Just HOW much CAFFINE and SUGAR is in those Puppies??
    Bottom Line here is that you need to be in control of YOUR own actions, and Not play mommy=daddy to the rest of society, if your kids have bad results stemming from Stupid behavior, perhaps you should\’ve been a more attentive Parent, instead of looking for a Big payday from a company trying, and succeeding at making, marketing, and selling their product!!

  5. William R, HURRAH! Thank you for your comment of common sense, which seems to be quite uncommon. I too am absolutely fed up with this bullshit drama over stupid ass people who are looking to make a quick buck and fuck over the rest of us who enjoy our drink.

    The thing that needs to be reminded of people is exactly like you said, parents need to do their fucking job and stop trying to expect the world to be bubble wrapped so they don’t have to teach their kids to pull their heads out of their ass.

    Let them win the Darwin award. Weed out the stupid and maybe the country might make a fucking recovery!

    @Margaret, all I have to say to you, is that you need to fucking die. You want the world to be safe for you, limiting options for others. GFY! If everyone took out of the world what was uncomfortable or not good for them, NOTHING would be left! Go outside Margaret and walk into the middle of traffic and do the world a favor. Better yet, go drink a 12 pack of Monster today, and be done with it!

  6. Are they going to go after coffee now too? The stated buzz being associated to alcohol is ridiculous. Yes caffeine gives you a buzz based on the fact that it is a drug. This drug is not illegal so Monster has every right to put it in their beverages. The fact of the matter is that this claims made about unhealthy side effects and heart attacks are backed by many studies that are so flawed as to be deemed useless as scientific basis and yet they also seem to leave out the common anomaly being that these people having heart attacks either ingested far too much or had some underlying or previous issue of heart disorder. You can die by drinking too much water and has happened. A condition called hyponatremia or polydypsia. More people die from obesity and heart disease every year due to poor diets of the processed foods we eat and high saturated fatty acids like fast food than from energy drinks. If you want to change something that matters then educate yourself and stop wasting everyone’s time. For the record the ld50 or toxic dose for the average adult is 10 grams not 200 milligrams and gurana is a berry which contains CAFFEINE not some horrible ingredient other than say oh caffeine for a total average dose of 240 mgs. Come on people.

  7. When does the 2014 Monster gear promotion start? Got my tabs ready.

  8. I drink 2 monsters everyday , for the last 5+ years and I have had no problems..

  9. I had a friend that told me not to drink monsters because of the large quintets of caffeine. So I looked up the difference in caffeine between coffee and monster. Monster had the less caffeine than coffe. Monster= 160mg Starbucks Coffee=330mg same amount.
    I drink monster to ovoid the caffeine crash and stay awake. It is muck healthier than coffee.
    So I do not understand why everyone is talking like monsters have more caffeine than coffee.
    BEWARE there is a number called THE CAFFIEN FACTOR that supposedly takes all the stimulants into account to come up with a comparison with coffee. In other words so coffee companies can make you feel good about drinking coffee over monster drinks.

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