Lawsuit Over Real Water Liver Illnesses Ends in $228M Verdict

Real Water is sold online and through Whole Foods, and was found to be contaminated with hydrazine, a chemical known to cause severe liver damage.

The manufacturers of Real Water have been ordered to pay $228 million to two families that experienced severe liver problems after consuming the bottled water products, which were blamed for causing the hospitalization of a seven-month old boy and death of a woman.

On Wednesday a Nevada jury found Las Vegas-based Real Water and two other defendants, Hanna Instruments and Milwaukee Instruments, liable for $28.5 million in compensatory damages for an outbreak of liver illnesses in Nevada. The jury also hit Real Water with an additional $200 million in punitive damages.

The lawsuit was filed in May 2021, alleging that Real Water’s alkaline water was contaminated and contributed to an outbreak of non-viral hepatitis liver illnesses. The complaint followed a Real Water health warning by the FDA in March 2021, which urged the public not to use or serve Real Water. The products were later found to be contaminated with hydrazine, a chemical used in rocket fuel.

Plaintiffs also claimed faulty testing meters produced by Hanna Instruments and Milwaukee Instruments contributed to toxic chemicals found in the water.

One of the families filed on behalf of Kathleen Ryerson, who died of liver failure in November 2020 after drinking Real Water for years. The other family filed on behalf of a seven-month-old boy who was hospitalized after suffering severe liver failure.

The claim was the first of several Real Water lawsuits slated to go to trial in the coming months and years.

Real Water Liver Failure Risks

Real Water came under investigation by both the Southern Nevada Health District and the FDA following a number of reports of acute, non-viral hepatitis linked to consumption of its alkaline water, which was sold online and at Whole Foods.

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At the time, the contaminant in Real Water products was unidentified, and the FDA claimed Real Water was not cooperating with the investigation. However, the firm agreed to shut down in June 2021 after the FDA warning.

During the trial, plaintiffs argued the company hired unqualified employees and did not properly test the water. The company claimed it drew its water from the local Las Vegas water supply and was unaware of the presence of hydrazine in the water and did not know to test for the chemical.

Hydrazine exposure can carry a number of health risks. Swallowing the chemical can result in health problems including hydrazine-induced liver failure. In addition, inhaling hydrazine vapor has also been linked to liver problems, and can cause severe burns to the eyes, nose and respiratory system. When hydrazine is absorbed through the skin it can act as a neurotoxin.

At least 21 illnesses and one death were linked to Real Water in Nevada and California before the products were recalled and the company shut down.


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