The Monster energy drink lawsuit has been dismissed in court. When the Monster lawsuit started earlier in 2016, the law firm Morgan & Morgan claimed two 16-ounce cans of Monster Energy contained a "lethal dose" of caffeine and that "overconsumption of energy drinks has led to heart attacks, strokes and even death." The Florida-based personal injury law firm has now asked the courts to dismiss their lawsuits.
Back in February, Morgan & Morgan had claimed there were potentially hundreds of cases of Monster energy deaths and injuries across the United States. Morgan law firm attorney Andrew Parker Felix had said Monster energy drink ingredients such as taurine and guarana had not been "adequately tested," which "creates a potentially lethal outcome for normal consumers."
For example, Mike Morgan had claimed a 14-year-old boy suffered a stroke and accused the Monster beverage company of marketing to children without proper testing.
"If the consumer can make a knowledgeable choice, that's OK. That's on them. But when you hide information and you don't disclose information, that's on the company to do something," said Mr. Morgan.
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Morgan & Morgan has since abandoned the Monster lawsuit. In a recent press release, Marc P. Miles of Shook, Hardy & Bacon, counsel for Monster Energy Company, said Morgan & Morgan's "voluntary dismissal of these lawsuits... speaks volumes."
"We believe fairness dictates that the media now write about the dismissals," Mr. Miles continued. "There is a lot of misinformation in the public about energy drinks. Once the substantial body of scientific evidence is reviewed, the safety of Monster Energy drinks becomes readily apparent. Recent scientific studies specifically conducted on Monster Energy drinks and published in peer-reviewed medical journals concluded there was no safety concern associated with the consumption of Monster Energy drinks. Over the past 14 years, more than 16 billion Monster Energy drinks have been sold and safely consumed worldwide."
The press release by PR firm Sitrick And Company notes that Monster's ingredients include 160 mg of caffeine in a 16 oz. drink, which is less than the 330 mg in a medium Starbucks coffee. It also claims that "governmental regulatory agencies in North America and Europe have found no health concerns associated with the consumption of energy drinks or their ingredients at the levels contained in them."
In order to compare coffee to Monster energy drinks, they reference a peer-reviewed study from University of Texas professors which equated the heart health risks of consuming energy drinks to the effects of consuming coffee and water. The 2016 study concluded that "acute consumption of these commonly consumed beverages (Monstery energy drinks and Keurig K-Cup Starbucks coffee) has no negative effect on cardiac QTc interval," which is important because the QTc interval can be used to diagnose susceptibility to certain types of tachyarrhythmias (a heart rate that's higher than the normal resting rate). In the worst case, "QT prolongation is associated with an increased incidence in cardiac arrhythmias and sudden death."
"These findings provide important information regarding the effect of energy drinks and coffee on cardiac and hemodynamic physiology and suggest that, contrary to media reports and limited scientific research (Shah et al., 2012, 2014), acute consumption of these commonly consumed beverages has no negative effect on cardiac QTc interval," claimed the study.
In addition, the researchers said that the "general consensus is that caffeine causes slight increases in systolic, diastolic and mean blood pressure." During their study, they noted that blood pressure was "elevated over the duration of data collection when the caffeine content was normalized to body weight." However, since this "effect was similar between all of the beverage conditions," they believe it suggests "that the elevation in blood pressure was related to a factor(s) other than the beverage itself."
The potential for Monster side effects has been debated in politics, news reports, and scientific studies for years. Although Morgan & Morgan has dismissed their own lawsuit, a UK research group, Food Research Collaboration, recently released a series of recommendations covering energy drinks and child safety.
"In light of the growing evidence base on the potentially harmful effects of energy drink consumption and increasing calls for action from teachers, parents and others, policy-makers and industry could consider the following options," says the report, according to Beverage Daily.
In the past, Laurie Wright, a registered dietitian and assistant professor at the University of South Florida's College of Public Health, claimed she had heard of children having very bad side effects from drinking energy drinks.
"We've had a lot of children admitted to the ER and even to the hospital because of energy drinks," Wright said. "It's really a deadly combination of caffeine and sugar especially for young minds. Caffeine by itself can really make you feel shaky — your heart races — you may feel short of breath."
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adolescents receive no more than 100 mg of caffeine a day, but the UK research group goes further by stating that governments should restrict energy drink marketing and sales. One recommendation suggests that local governments could "restrict sales of energy drinks to those under 16 years of age."
What do you think about the Monster lawsuit? Should kids not be allowed to drink energy drinks?
[Image via Penn State]