Lawsuits Over 5-Hour Energy Advertising Claims Filed By Two States

The state attorneys general for Oregon and Washington have filed lawsuits against the makers of 5-Hour Energy drinks, alleging that the company engaged in deceptive and misleading advertising. 

The 5-Hour Energy lawsuits, filed on July 17, accuse Living Essentials LLC and Innovation Ventures LLC of making false claims that the product is safe for teenagers and for implying that the drink’s energy boost comes from ingredients other than caffeine.

The complaints also allege that the manufacturer made false claims that there is no “crash” after drinking 5-Hour Energy, despite studies showing that consumers who drank the small shots did suffer drops in energy levels typically associated with other similar products.

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Oregon and Washington are two of just 33 states who have been investigating the safety and marketing claims of 5-Hour Energy. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum led the investigation.

“This lawsuit is about requiring truth in advertising,” Rosenblum said in a press release announcing her state’s lawsuit. “Plainly and simply, in Oregon you cannot promote a product as being effective if you don’t have sufficient evidence to back up your advertising claims.”

Officials with the manufacturers have said that they see the lawsuits as bullying tactics and said they have no basis in fact.

5-Hour Energy is a popular energy drink distributed by Innovation Ventures, LLC, which does business as Living Essentials. The product is categorized as a dietary supplement, meaning that the manufacturer has been able to avoid FDA regulation and sell the product without disclosing details on what is contained in the energy drink shot.

Marketing statements made by the manufacturer typically indicate that 5 Hour Energy provides “hours of energy now – no crash later,” suggesting that users will not experience the sudden drop in energy that is typically associated with other high-caffeine energy drink products. According to National Advertising Division (NAD), part of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, there is data that disproves the claim, which is at least five years old.

The energy drink industry has come under increased scrutiny over the past two years, as concerns mount about the potential health risks associated with energy drink products and various marketing claims that encourage young users to consume large quantities of the highly caffeinated beverages.

According to information released by the FDA, there have been at least 13 deaths linked to 5 Hour Energy Shots.

In June 2013, a panel of federal judges consolidated all 5-Hour Energy sales and marketing lawsuits brought throughout the federal court system before U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez in the Central District of California. As of July 15, there were 16 such claims that were part of the MDL.


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