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 24 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.

  10. I have been drinking monsters since the day they have come out. I started with green then switched to the blue cans. But I will consume 3 24oz cans in one day sometimes and it does not give a buzz or make me feel oozy. I buy them,not for energy but because I like the taste of them. The price could use more help than the FDA can do. That dude probably is on some kind of benefits and if it has nutrition facts the per say food stamps will cover them like it does redbull. But I suck monsters from morning to night and I sleep fine and never have a lot of energy like normal. Monster Energy Rocks!!! And is the best tasting drink around in my opinion!! Keep em coming “Monster”!!!!!

  11. I feel that like anything you consume you do it knowingly and understanding what it will do to your body. I have drank monsters for years and I’m perfectly healthy. As a parent i don’t allow my children to drink them bc i know that they are generally used to boost your energy…i love their taste. Look if you don’t agree with monster drinks then don’t drink them.

  12. How many people die each year from alcohol? Are you going to sue the beer companies because they damaged your liver?

  13. I drink a large coffee every morning and 1-2 monster rehabs every day and i have no side affects and perfectly healthy. I have 4 daughters 8-10 yrs old and guess what i dont allow them to drink energy drinks. Its called be a parent and control what your kids eat and drink. And why does everything in california cause cancer or bad for you.

  14. I drink a monster every day If your old enough to read the can you know what you are drinking. I love monster products. If you have a problem with monster dont drink it and stop bitching.its not going to stop the rest of us from enjoying it.

  15. you no the risk its simple drink it or dont its your choice nobody makes you!

  16. Will there be a promotion for the tabs in 2014?

  17. I have been drinking monster now on a regular basis pretty much since 2005. I even have a monthly subscription of one case per month delivered to my doorstep. I am 38 years old and never had any bad experience and am in great health! Sometimes, I’ll even drink 2-3 cans a day. People that have died or have alleged health issues from drinking Monster, in my opinion, had those conditions before hand! Typical Americans with their hands out for free money either from Government or Suing Corporations!

  18. People need to stop going after products that “cause” health issues. I don’t believe it. It is all genetic if your family has a history of heart problems, dont drink caffeine. Simple. If something causes something then everyone who used it would get the same issue. These people probably went over the recommended use and had like 5 a day or something. Not everyone that smokes gets cancer! Your born with the issues people.

  19. I habe always been a caffeine addict since I was a teenager.. my toletance for caffeinebis very high.. I drink 1 monster every day forbyears with no ill effects.. it keeps me going when im exhausted.. love the taste too! I think the moral of this story is you cant fix stupid.. dont like it? Dont drink it! Why try and ruin it for the millions of people who do? Use commom sense.. If you’re not a regular caffeine user then its very ovious you shouldnt be consuming large amounts.. user error not monster!

  20. And now I’m stuck here with a thousand can tabs for free gear, and all because some douches want to try and make a quick buck!

  21. I have an idea.
    Monster Energy just put on your cans ” Drink at your own risk” xD
    Then you got a loop hole haha
    No but seriously.
    People who have heart conditions. Says right on the can “NOT RECOMMENDED FOR CHILDREN, PEOPLE SENSITIVE TO CAFFEINE, PREGNANT WOMEN,OR WOMEN WHO ARE NURSING.”
    So in the case of the 14 year old who died of Cardiac arrest……. Shes a child. Didn’t listen to the BOLD ALL CAPS print labeled on the can!
    People really irritate me with this shit because I have been drinking it since I was about 14-15 And I used to do 2 BFCs a day xD
    So uh…………
    Am I superman? Im 24 now…….
    I have an average intake of about 32-64 ounces every day or 2
    I drink them a LOT! I have hundreds of tabs saved for the Gear promos just from the last couple months!
    So answer that? Am I superman? Or is it just idiots who don’t know their own bodies? xD
    STAND UP FOR MONSTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. I drank hundreds and hundred of monsters in the last five years, and I’m fine I like the “tweak of South Park” feeling ahhhhh!!! Lol people will sue over anything these days. Have to label “contents are hot” on a fking coffee cup or you’ll get sued, dumbass it’s coffee it’s gonna be hot. Just a lack of common sense with people now a days. Where’s the class action lawsuits for mc Donald’s making people fat asses? Lol hey hey hey I’m fat Albert! And now diabetics lol “I shall sue you cause my fat ass doesn’t know when enough is enough for my mouth hole” people make me laugh

  23. Seriously some people are against drinking monster energy because they think tht it’s terrible for your health…yeah it’s bad for your health…Thts only when you drink at least 3 of the 32 oz a day…whoever drinks tht much or more a day is just stupid…but anyway what I’m trying to say is tht I love monster energy I’m a big fan of the rehab series…keep up the good work monster!!!!

  24. I’m 45 and have been drinking monster for years with no side effects, I drink 1 to 2 cans aday. Everyone who is blaming monster for some of these health problems , it’s not there fault. Granted I’m sorry these things have happened to u. Some of the coffee drink offered now a days have more calories and caffeine then multiple monster drinks. But no one seems to sue them. Some people just need to earn their money the old fashion way. GET A JOB….

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