The Corona-based Monster Beverage Corp. Tuesday rejected allegations that its product had anything to do with the death of a 14-year-old girl whose parents are suing the manufacturer for liability and negligence.
"Monster does not believe that its products are in any way responsible for the death of Ms. (Anais) Fournier and intends to vigorously defend the lawsuit," according to a statement released by the company.
Fournier's family filed suit against Monster in Riverside County Superior Court Wednesday, claiming the Hagerstown, Md. teenager's death was precipitated by the consumption of two 24-oz. energy drinks in a 24-hour period.
The youth suffered a massive heart attack last December and went into a coma. She was removed from life support six days later. According to published reports, she had an underlying heart condition that may have contributed to her cardiac arrest.
Alexander Wheeler, a Lancaster attorney representing her family, said Monster Energy bears responsibility for failing to provide warnings about the potential negative consequences from consuming high quantities of Monster Energy.
"These energy drinks contain highly dangerous levels of caffeine and can be extremely harmful, but these grave health dangers are not clearly marked on the cans," Wheeler said.
"Anais' family wants to make sure another family doesn't have to endure the same tragedy as they have."
The lawsuit alleges strict product liability and negligence in design, sale and manufacture of the product.
According to the plaintiffs, the two drinks that Anais consumed contained a total 480 milligrams of caffeine -- equal to 14 cans of cola. Wheeler noted that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration limits the amount of caffeine per soda to 71.5 mg per 12-oz. drink.
However, the same regulation doesn't apply to energy drinks because they're considered dietary supplements.
Monster said its products generally contain 10 milligrams of caffeine"from all sources per ounce."
"An entire 24-oz. can of Monster Energy contains about 240 milligrams of caffeine ... which is around 30 percent less than the average caffeine contained in a medium-sized 16-oz. cup of coffee house-brewed coffee," according to the company.
Said Kevin Goldberg, a Silver Spring, Md. attorney who is also representing the family: "Nothing can bring Anais back, but we can tell the world these energy drinks are harmful.
"Our hope is discovery in this case will shed light on Monster Corp.'s practices regarding what they do or do not tell the public and FDA about the safety of their products."
The plaintiffs pointed out that between 2004 and 2012, the FDA reported six deaths and 18 hospitalizations allegedly connected to Monster Energy drinks.
The company countered that the agency's "adverse event reports ... do not mean that the reported event is caused by the product."
"The FDA has made clear that it has not established any casual link between Monster Energy drinks and the reports it has received," Monster stated.
The first hearing in the case is set for April.