Energy Drink Lawsuit: Do 5-Hour Energy's Ads Mislead?

Three states have now joined together in suing Living Essentials, the makers of 5-Hour Energy. The energy drink lawsuit claims that the company's ads are deceptive and deliberately misleading. A spokesperson for Living Essentials says that it's not true, and that they'll fight the lawsuit.

According to Reuters, Washington, Oregon, and Vermont have already filed suits against the maker of minuscule energy drinks, and more states are expected to join in short order. The lawsuit seeks an injunction, which would stop the energy drink seller from advertising with the phrases and claims that are being called deceptive.

According to the lawsuit, the commercials suggest that a special blend of vitamins, nutrients, and other ingredients gives a long-lasting energy boost when compared to that received from coffee, for instance. Ads claim that with 5-Hour Energy, the type of crash one gets after consuming sugary drinks laden with caffeine can be avoided. Contrary to that, the lawsuit claims, caffeine is exactly what the tiny drinks use to give an energy boost, and users can expect the same energy crash afterward as with any caffeine pick-up.

PBS News notes that 33 other states currently have investigations underway into 5-Hour Energy's ad claims, so the expectation that more will join the lawsuit is well founded.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum explains why she felt it was necessary to initiate the 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."

She says the ads violate the Trade Practices Act, which lays out the rules for how companies can promote their wares, and requires them to do so with a certain amount of honesty and integrity.

It's not the first upset for 5-Hour Energy. There have been claims in recent years that the energy drinks were complicit in several deaths. It is important to realize that the same can be said of many energy supplements and drinks, and that the risks may be the same that users could expect from any caffeinated product.

Still, Living Essentials claims the lawsuit is frivolous and groundless. 5-Hour Energy spokesperson called the suit bullying and civil intimidation. She told CBS News that Living Essentials doesn't plan to back down:

"When companies are being bullied by someone in a position of power, these companies roll over, pay the ransom, and move on. We're not doing that."

As the energy drink lawsuit continues to grow, it remains to be seen whether 5-Hour Energy will stick to their guns, or decide to settle after all.

[photo credit: JeepersMedia via photopin cc]