How Will Monster Deal With This Serious Charge?

The family of a teenaged Maryland girl, who died of a cardiac arrest last December, is suing Monster Beverage Corp. (NASDAQ:MNST) after alleging that her death was caused by “caffeine toxicity” brought on by the consumption of the company’s energy drink.

The parents of 14-year-old Anais Fournier said in their filing with the California Superior Court in Riverside that the teenager drank two cans of Monster Energy within a 24-hour period. Each 24-oz. can of the drink contains 240 milligrams of caffeine, the equivalent of seven 12-oz. cans of Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO), according to the filing. Three hours after she had the second drink on December 23, 2011, Fournier suffered a fatal heart attack. The autopsy cited “cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity” as the cause of death. Fournier reportedly also had a harmless heart condition called mitral valve prolapse.

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The filing claims Monster Beverage has “successfully avoided meaningful regulation of its product by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration” by classifying the drink as a “dietary supplement” and not a “food” product. It also claims that the drink has inadequate labeling that “does nothing to attempt to warn of these severe health risks.”

Fournier’s family is seeking punitive damages for product liability, failure to warn, negligence, fraud, and wrongful death.

Last week, it was reported that Monster had increased its energy drink market share during the month of September, with a sales increase of 17.8 percent. The energy drink market has continued to grow despite increased efforts by traditional beverage giants such as Coca-Cola and PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) to attract consumers with alternatives.

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