Energy Drink Lawsuit Filed Over MillerCoors’ Sparks

A product liability lawsuit has been filed against MillerCoors, the makers of the alcoholic energy drink Sparks, alleging that the beverage poses serious health and safety risks.

Sparks is a caffeinated alcoholic beverage, which is among a growing list of popular energy drinks that have caused concerns about health risks they may cause. Sparks is the top seller in its category, with a market share of 60%. It has been marketed and sold by MillerCoors, a joint venture between SABMiller and Molson Coors Brewing, since it was acquired from McKenie River Corp. in 2006.

Energy drinks contain very high levels of caffeine and often have other additives, such as ginseng, taurine and carnitine, which could act as stimulants. They are heavily marketed towards teenagers and young adults to provide a boost of energy.

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Since 2000, the energy drink industry has grown over 700 percent and according to a 2006 report in Fortune magazine, the industry is now worth about $2.5 billion.

The Washington-based consumer advocacy group, Center for Science in the Public Interest filed a lawsuit against MillerCoors in the District of Columbia Superior Court, claiming that Sparks contains unauthorized additives and poses a safety and health risk to consumers. The lawsuit also alleges Sparks is actively marketed to minors and other young people. Sparks contains 6–7% alcohol by volume while a typical beer contains about 3-5% alcohol by volume.

In June 2008, Anheuser-Busch agreed to stop selling similar alcoholic energy drinks marketed as Bud Tilt and Bud Extra, after they faced similar lawsuits filed by advocacy groups and state attorney generals. The Bud energy drink lawsuit also claimed that the drinks containing both alcohol and caffeine may adversely affect the health and safety of consumers.

The best known energy drinks are non-alcoholic variety, such as Red Bull, Redline, Rockstar and Full Throttle. However, even these non-alcoholic versions are often mixed with alcohol and they are usually heavily promoted in clubs and bars.

Last month, a study by the Cardiovascular Research Centre at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in Australia found that just one can of the caffeinated energy drink Red Bull could increase the risk of stroke or a heart attack. Their research found that it could cause the blood to become sticky, increasing the risk of clotting.

MillerCoors maintains that its Sparks formulation has been approved by the Treasury Department’s Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and that its marketing is responsible and aimed at adults over the legal drinking age.

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32 Comments

  • joeJanuary 23, 2013 at 4:29 pm

    Jamie,I am not blaming the product all together. It is a product that is self explain. ENERGY DRINK. If you don't rest the body, it tell you by getting tired, sleepy, And you can even think straight. You take this and wow, all of a sudden your body wake up. But did your body really get the rest it needed. NO. You are abusing your body to go pass the limit that it will allow. That is why we need sl[Show More]Jamie,I am not blaming the product all together. It is a product that is self explain. ENERGY DRINK. If you don't rest the body, it tell you by getting tired, sleepy, And you can even think straight. You take this and wow, all of a sudden your body wake up. But did your body really get the rest it needed. NO. You are abusing your body to go pass the limit that it will allow. That is why we need sleep, rest. What is the addition. The kick start itself is the addition. Has you said it has damage the body. You know this, but "can't" stop. Knowing that it is killing you, and still taking it is a mental problem for you to over come, not the addition itself.

  • JamieJanuary 22, 2013 at 2:06 pm

    I believe if they don't want to warn people they need to take the product off the selves I never been one to say this but sorry there is something in this red bull that is so hard to kick it is worse than drugs no lie I feel like I am killing myself slowly and can't stop I am so hooked I don't know what to do the gulit I have every time I open a can knowing my kidneys r giving out my heart is stre[Show More]I believe if they don't want to warn people they need to take the product off the selves I never been one to say this but sorry there is something in this red bull that is so hard to kick it is worse than drugs no lie I feel like I am killing myself slowly and can't stop I am so hooked I don't know what to do the gulit I have every time I open a can knowing my kidneys r giving out my heart is stressed I am so lost with this I know I will be dead with in a year if I don't stop my kidneys r bad blood in my urine

  • JamieJanuary 17, 2013 at 9:26 am

    I buy 3 4 packs a day and drink at least two threw the day I am scared I been livin on it so long my taste budds r gone nothing taste good only red bull my heart I know will not last much longer it is a scarey thing I am a mother that lives for her kids I don't party go out I stay home with my children and this has me scared u think that alone would stop me seems like I can't !!

  • Dustan PApril 13, 2012 at 8:10 am

    I am 29 years old and I too was an avid red bull drinker for 5 years. I had 1 diet red bull a day on the way to work and would only occasionally have 2 in a day. I never smoked, drank coffee, and only drank beer infrequently. I started to have problems with my kidneys a year or two ago and ended up going to the doctor, they said I had blood in my urine but they said I was ok and I probably just n[Show More]I am 29 years old and I too was an avid red bull drinker for 5 years. I had 1 diet red bull a day on the way to work and would only occasionally have 2 in a day. I never smoked, drank coffee, and only drank beer infrequently. I started to have problems with my kidneys a year or two ago and ended up going to the doctor, they said I had blood in my urine but they said I was ok and I probably just needed antibiotics. I then had blood in my stool. I never thought it was the red bull because I only ever had 1 a day. 4 weeks ago I decided to give up drinking red bull and quit cold turkey. 3 days later I had a seizer at 9:00 in the morning. The same time I always drank a red bull for the past 5 years. The doctors said there was no explanation but I know it was caused by red bull. I started drinking it to wake me up in the morning and now that I have been off it for a while I feel so much better. Everyone says it is bad for you and my rebuttal was always, "if it is bad for you there would be proof or a label on it like cigarette." if I knew truly how bad it is for you I never would have drank it. I do not agree it should be banned but I don't know the damage I have done to my body and there needs to be awareness so that young kids don't have the problems I have had. It needs a warning and to be treated like beer or cigarettes so for nothing else pregnant mothers would know to stay away from it.

  • myraOctober 9, 2011 at 12:52 am

    SPARKS KILL WITHOUT WARNING OR NOTICE OF ITS CONTENTS

  • clayMarch 5, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    I had 3 siezures last August after drinking a Starbucks energy drink. I went through all the tests (very expensive). The doctors found nothing wrong with me, no epilepsy, and I am in amazing health. They said they could not figure out what caused the siezure other than the energy drink. If you have not had a siezure or heart attack, you cannot comment because you really have no clue. I almost[Show More]I had 3 siezures last August after drinking a Starbucks energy drink. I went through all the tests (very expensive). The doctors found nothing wrong with me, no epilepsy, and I am in amazing health. They said they could not figure out what caused the siezure other than the energy drink. If you have not had a siezure or heart attack, you cannot comment because you really have no clue. I almost died. If you want to smoke or drink or damage your body, fine, but the FDA is around to protect us from this. We do not have crack or meth legal, though some people who have left comments it sounds like want to, because it has terrible side affects on the body. These should be banned also except the energy drink companies have better lobbyist in Washington than drug dealers do!

  • samFebruary 17, 2011 at 7:27 am

    I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN IN GOOD HEALTH 3 WEEKES AGO I WENT IN FOR A PHYSICIAL WAS IN GOOD HEALTH I WAS WORKING LONG HRS STARTED DRINKING 2 TO 3 ENERGY DRINKS A DAY ,3 WEEKS LATER I HAD A SILENT HEART ATTACK DIED 3 TIMES THANKS TO SOME ONE GIVING ME CPR AND ELECTRIC SHOCK I AM AROUND TODAY

  • Jerry SOctober 27, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    I lost my son in June 2010. Although it cannot be proven, there exists the belief that the large amount of Energy Drinks he consumed were a contributing factor to the aneurism, and subsequent stroke, he suffered. My son drank in excess of 6-8 energy drinks per day. My son was 30 years old, played many sports, and was in excellent physical conditino. He had no prior history of any medical probl[Show More]I lost my son in June 2010. Although it cannot be proven, there exists the belief that the large amount of Energy Drinks he consumed were a contributing factor to the aneurism, and subsequent stroke, he suffered. My son drank in excess of 6-8 energy drinks per day. My son was 30 years old, played many sports, and was in excellent physical conditino. He had no prior history of any medical problems (high blood pressure, headaches, etc.,) that normally are indicators leading to a stroke. While I may never be in a position to prove Energy Drinks were the cause of his death, it is my profound belief that they were the reason for the aneurism, stroke, and death.

  • KathyJune 12, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    My 54 year old, healthy, active husband started drinking Monster drinks to help him stay awake so he could work later and later. After some issues with an irregular heartbeat he had a stroke on June 11, 2009, followed by a major stroke the following day. After 2 weeks on life support he died, leaving me and my 8 year old daughter. Is it really worth it? I think all energy drinks should be bann[Show More]My 54 year old, healthy, active husband started drinking Monster drinks to help him stay awake so he could work later and later. After some issues with an irregular heartbeat he had a stroke on June 11, 2009, followed by a major stroke the following day. After 2 weeks on life support he died, leaving me and my 8 year old daughter. Is it really worth it? I think all energy drinks should be banned.

  • BillApril 25, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    I am 57yrs old and am in excellant physical shape. I've been sober for 20yrs and felt comfortable drinking "soft" drinks like MONSTER. I was unaware of the potential of death or seizure, this would have been a helpful bit of info in my decision making. After three days in the hospital for a GranMal seizure , can't drive or hike alone and may be unemployed since I now have a "history" of seizures[Show More]I am 57yrs old and am in excellant physical shape. I've been sober for 20yrs and felt comfortable drinking "soft" drinks like MONSTER. I was unaware of the potential of death or seizure, this would have been a helpful bit of info in my decision making. After three days in the hospital for a GranMal seizure , can't drive or hike alone and may be unemployed since I now have a "history" of seizures. I do feel warnings should be clear , my incident occurred after just one can. I hope all supporters don'thave seizure but if ya do hope you're not driving.

  • AndreaFebruary 26, 2010 at 7:00 am

    Here's how it breaks down: there are several substances out in the world that are completely legal to ingest. On most all of these substances when it has been found that there is the risk to develop health problems from their use, they put a WARNING on it, then let the people decide. Why should this product be treated any different? Plastic bags weren't outlawed because there is a risk to suffocat[Show More]Here's how it breaks down: there are several substances out in the world that are completely legal to ingest. On most all of these substances when it has been found that there is the risk to develop health problems from their use, they put a WARNING on it, then let the people decide. Why should this product be treated any different? Plastic bags weren't outlawed because there is a risk to suffocating, they simply put a warning to inform you they are not a toy and inform you of the risks, then let the consumer decide! This situation is no different. I think it's sad that there is the argument that a women can have an abortion because it's her own body and her own choice to do what she would like... but to PROTECT us from this horrible beverage (for our own good of course), the CSPI has to remove a product that MAY cause health problems if overused. You will never see cigarettes outlawed, or fast food meals with 200% of a person's daily saturated fat outlawed... but PLEASE, outlaw engergy drinks, because we're too ingorant to consume responsibly! RIDICULOUS!!!!!!

  • amberNovember 2, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    so i was an avid sparks drinker for about 3-4 years, i thought it was awesome since i dont care for beer it was something that i could drink that would keep me in pace with everyone else....when i drank them i could consume 8-9 in one night...and i would do that for about 4-5 nights a week...i knew energy drinks were bad for you....but i wasnt aware of the long term effects it may have on your bod[Show More]so i was an avid sparks drinker for about 3-4 years, i thought it was awesome since i dont care for beer it was something that i could drink that would keep me in pace with everyone else....when i drank them i could consume 8-9 in one night...and i would do that for about 4-5 nights a week...i knew energy drinks were bad for you....but i wasnt aware of the long term effects it may have on your body...right now i am suffering from stomach problems and i have no clue why....i wonder if it is connected...

  • MastersonSeptember 13, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    my friend had a seizure because of energy drinks. in the state of virginia you cannot drive for 9 months after a seizure.

  • TravisAugust 25, 2009 at 12:02 pm

    I drink 3 monster drinks a day and I feel fantastic, my labido is the bomb, monster drinks are better than viagra. I will never stop drinking the MONSTER DRINK.....Go Monster....and another benefit is that you don't have to call a dr. for the 4 hour labido.

  • SueAugust 25, 2009 at 11:58 am

    My fiance drinks 3 monster energy drinks a day and he keeps wondering why he breaks out in hives on his back, has pain in his groin area, has pain in his joints, and has chest pain as well as bleeding when he has a bowel movement. I tell him gee I wonder why? It is the f...ing energy drinks dah. I keep telling him to stop drinking them but as usual he doesn't listen. I'm afraid that some day I am [Show More]My fiance drinks 3 monster energy drinks a day and he keeps wondering why he breaks out in hives on his back, has pain in his groin area, has pain in his joints, and has chest pain as well as bleeding when he has a bowel movement. I tell him gee I wonder why? It is the f...ing energy drinks dah. I keep telling him to stop drinking them but as usual he doesn't listen. I'm afraid that some day I am going to find him dead. How can I get him to stop?

  • Denise MAugust 13, 2009 at 5:46 am

    A warning to whoever may llisten to this- I only hope to save someone from going through what my son did These energy drinks are a danger to the minds of our youth. I experienced the effects first hand, when my perfectly normal 22 yr old, ended up in and out of mental institutions for over 6 months. He drank several a day, for a 3-4 month period, as he worked full time and went to school time. [Show More]A warning to whoever may llisten to this- I only hope to save someone from going through what my son did These energy drinks are a danger to the minds of our youth. I experienced the effects first hand, when my perfectly normal 22 yr old, ended up in and out of mental institutions for over 6 months. He drank several a day, for a 3-4 month period, as he worked full time and went to school time. Guess he thought he needed the energy. It is not just teenagers and college students - Your 8 year old brother or sister can purchase these things. Please help fight the destruction of our youth the scariest thng is that these drinks can be purchased by "any 10 yr old in any store USA", without restrictions. There are no warning labels other than for pregnant women. Kids see these drinks and figure they are harmless and will give them energy, That's it. these companies are making billions at the expense of our young people. The cost of "losing a few", seems to be worth their profits. We were lucky in our house- I eventually "got my son back", but only after he weaned himself off the antipysotic medications he spent the next 2 1/2 yrs on. When I wrote to the FDA, I got no response. These drinks to need to be outllawed. As far as I am concerned, they are just as bad as any drug out there, if not worse. Yes, my son drank them to excess; but if there are no warnings on the labels, and they are marketed and sold like chocolate and you are buying them because you " need energy" to go to work full time and school full time; and you have no idea that they can be dangerous; well, I think that right there is the whole problem. It scares the heck out of me, to know that the childen of America are at such risk - we are dealing with what can be a mind altering beverage that is simply being marketed as "energy'" My heart and prayers go out to Shana and her family,whose father passed away after drinking 10 of these things. I believe that my son was extremely fortunate that he eventually got his mind back. I spent many long months wondering if he would. Please help get these things off the market - the lives and minds of Americas' youth are at stake.

  • DeanneJuly 27, 2009 at 2:29 pm

    someone bought SPARKS for my 16 yr old daughter and I have never seen anyone that intoxicated. We could not get her to calm down, she wanted to fight and get in our faces. I have never seen my daughter like this. It was scary and was afraid of alcohol poisoning. We as parents have enough to worry about what our children are getting into. This product targets teenage children and needs to be taken [Show More]someone bought SPARKS for my 16 yr old daughter and I have never seen anyone that intoxicated. We could not get her to calm down, she wanted to fight and get in our faces. I have never seen my daughter like this. It was scary and was afraid of alcohol poisoning. We as parents have enough to worry about what our children are getting into. This product targets teenage children and needs to be taken off the shelves.

  • maryJune 26, 2009 at 4:22 am

    My son was out drinking redbull with his grilfriend and he almost killed her. That stuff needs to be outlawed. I am hearing about young men whom would never hit or abuse a women, but now after drinking redbull it happing all over. A INVESTIGATION SHOULD BE DONE,

  • trishJune 10, 2009 at 5:30 am

    I agree with the people who say it's not the companies... we all make our own choices. We know many things are bad for us but we still us them. right? so if ya'll don't agree with them don't use them. period point blank!! If you want to know why we have health promblems ask the goverment what they have been putting in our meat.... why other countries won't take it, but they will sell these same en[Show More]I agree with the people who say it's not the companies... we all make our own choices. We know many things are bad for us but we still us them. right? so if ya'll don't agree with them don't use them. period point blank!! If you want to know why we have health promblems ask the goverment what they have been putting in our meat.... why other countries won't take it, but they will sell these same energy drinks. Ya'll are so subject to tryin to blame someone!!!

  • isarelApril 7, 2009 at 6:12 pm

    I gree that energy drinks are awesome. But I also think that something has to to be done because teenagers are also drinking this beverages and they might not be aware of the health dangers.

  • BeansMarch 4, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    Look I continue to drink sparks, but not to an extent to where i can't funnction! Everybody knows that there are risks in drinking an excess of something. We are not stupid. I mean come on now, for real, I know what im putting in my body and how much of it! We are grown adults and should be able to make grown folks decisions!!!!!!!!!!! But i also agree if something has put additives into something[Show More]Look I continue to drink sparks, but not to an extent to where i can't funnction! Everybody knows that there are risks in drinking an excess of something. We are not stupid. I mean come on now, for real, I know what im putting in my body and how much of it! We are grown adults and should be able to make grown folks decisions!!!!!!!!!!! But i also agree if something has put additives into something and has not been cleared for the approval yet, could cause problems! So drink at your own risk, cause i know i will!

  • shanaJanuary 27, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    My 48 years old father with no heart problems drank around 10 sparks energy drinks in 1 day we found him dead the next day from some sort of freak heart attack in his sleep.I just wonder is their a connection

  • AMCOOKJanuary 22, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    I admitt Sparks is good, a little to good. I learned that too much of a good thing is not good. I binge drink off Sparks. This is not a good look for me, there is something wrong when I find I can not stop drinking this drink. There is something in it not for me... I wish to quit and I hope it and many other energy drinks are pulled from the shelves.

  • AmberJanuary 12, 2009 at 5:26 am

    sparks is awesome ..... i think it is absolutely ridiculous that people blame these companies for all this stuff when it is our choice to do it.... no one can put it in your hand and say drink....i have been drinking sparks and redbulls for about 4 years and never had any problem... i know the risk of drinking them but thats the choice i choose to take..i guess i have to stock up on them now befor[Show More]sparks is awesome ..... i think it is absolutely ridiculous that people blame these companies for all this stuff when it is our choice to do it.... no one can put it in your hand and say drink....i have been drinking sparks and redbulls for about 4 years and never had any problem... i know the risk of drinking them but thats the choice i choose to take..i guess i have to stock up on them now before they are all gone

  • DuckswtfpwnJanuary 6, 2009 at 10:23 pm

    This is how America works. Sue, sue, sue. Take some responsibility for yourself. I too have been drinking Sparks (Black Label 8%) for the past 4-5 years and I love it. I am aware of the risks, just like smoking, eating every meal at McDonalds and all of the other stupid addictions we blame everyone else for. Stop going after the companies that create these products and don't buy them. Just because[Show More]This is how America works. Sue, sue, sue. Take some responsibility for yourself. I too have been drinking Sparks (Black Label 8%) for the past 4-5 years and I love it. I am aware of the risks, just like smoking, eating every meal at McDonalds and all of the other stupid addictions we blame everyone else for. Stop going after the companies that create these products and don't buy them. Just because its not for you does not mean other people want them. Sorry your son, husband, or whoever is having issues, but please don't tell me what I can and can't do.

  • ThearcticfishermanJanuary 1, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    First of all, SPARKS is the bomb, I love it been drinking it for 4 years now. It seams like when someone has a health problem they find a scapegoat, SPARKS is not it!!!! Maybe you should stop drinking or get your lazy a@# off the bar stool!!!! If any of the lawsuits go through, I think I will have to file a lawsuit to go after the crybabbies that took away the best drink ever!!!!!!!!!!! GO SPARKS[Show More]First of all, SPARKS is the bomb, I love it been drinking it for 4 years now. It seams like when someone has a health problem they find a scapegoat, SPARKS is not it!!!! Maybe you should stop drinking or get your lazy a@# off the bar stool!!!! If any of the lawsuits go through, I think I will have to file a lawsuit to go after the crybabbies that took away the best drink ever!!!!!!!!!!! GO SPARKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • SamDecember 28, 2008 at 2:27 pm

    My 20 year old son is having servere stomach problems for the past 2 months . Has been to ER 3 times. He is still sick and have no idea of the outcome!! He has drank these kind of drinks for 3 years. I think something should be done to stop this poison on the market killing our young. They pick on smoking and alcohol, but at least that takes 40 years to kill you!!!!!!

  • KristenDecember 19, 2008 at 3:32 am

    I think people are always willing to blame the product rather than accepting any due responsibility that should go along with consumption. You choose to put these products in your body. You choose to accept the risks. Never has Sparks, Red Bull, or any of the like, advertised that they were healthy. Nor do they advise over consumption of these products.

  • crystalOctober 31, 2008 at 1:12 am

    my husband started having problems with his kidneys and on sept. 17 2008 he started having siezures we think red bull was the cause of this because he never had any health problems until he started drinking red bull!!!! Yes I belive their should be more restriction on erengy drinks.

  • Experts Petition FDA to Increase Energy Drink Regulations : AboutLawsuits.comOctober 22, 2008 at 10:54 pm

    [...] energy drink, with a caffeine content of 80 mg per 8.3 oz can and $1 billion in worldwide sales. MillerCoors Sparks was the top selling alcoholic caffeinated energy drink, with an alcohol content of 6-7% and a [...]

  • ShellyOctober 14, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    I recently had a friend who died because of a blood clot caused by energy drinks. My opinion is that there needs to be more restrictions on energy drinks.

  • Energy Drink Health Risk Warnings Needed According to Researchers : AboutLawsuits.comSeptember 26, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    [...] month, an energy drink lawsuit was filed by the Washington-based consumer advocacy group, Center for Science, against MillerCoors [...]

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