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Red Bull sued for $85 million over man's death

Monday, November 11, 2013 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: Red Bull, lawsuit, energy drinks

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(NaturalNews) Red Bull is being sued for wrongful death after a healthy 33-year-old man collapsed dead on a basketball court after gulping the high-caffeine drink.

The lawsuit, for $85 million, is believed to be the first wrongful death suit against the world's largest energy drink company.

Construction worker Cory Terry - survived by a 13-year-old son - was healthy, active and a non-smoker, his grandmother, Patricia Terry, said. However, he regularly drank large amounts of Red Bull.

"He drank that stuff all the time," she said. "He said it perked him up."

About a year ago, Terry downed a can of Red Bull about 45 minutes into a basketball game. Shortly after, he grew dizzy, collapsed and died. Doctors discovered that he had suffered idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), meaning that his heart had simply stopped. The medical report noted that he had consumed Red Bull right before the attack.

Although DCM can have many causes, doctors were unable to pinpoint any particular reason for Terry's death.

"I know he was healthy and I couldn't find no other reason for why he died," his grandmother said.

Wrongful death

According to the lawsuit, at least nine previous deaths have been linked to Red Bull. The suit cites research demonstrating the health risks of energy beverages, particularly for people who are highly active. It also alleges that the marketing slogan "Red Bull gives you wings" is targeted at adolescents and athletes, the very groups most vulnerable to the beverage's ingredients.

Red Bull has "extra stimulants that make it different than a cup of coffee," lawyer Ilya Novofastovsky said. "They are more dangerous than what Red Bull lets on."

Noting that the FDA has long known of research suggesting that energy drinks might be dangerous, Novofastovsky called on the agency to reevaluate the drinks' safety.

The FDA has confirmed at least 18 deaths potentially linked to energy drinks. Between 2004 and 2012, it received 21 reports from healthcare providers who suspected Red Bull of causing side effects ranging from fatigue and dizziness to chest pain.

Indeed, the FDA is already investigating whether energy drinks might have led to the deaths of five separate people, including a 14-year-old who fell dead after drinking two 24-ounce Monster beverages over the course of two days.

Deadly brew?

Pediatricians and health researchers are raising increasing concern over the risks that energy drinks might pose to children and adolescents, in particular. Rutgers University recently issued a report warning that children might be in danger from any caffeinated beverages at all, particularly if they consume such beverages regularly or drink a large quantity over a short period of time.

"These drinks are made for adults," drug educator Bruce Ruck said. "When young children drink them, they consume a large quantity of caffeine for their body mass."

"Children also might have trouble falling asleep or experience tremors, anxiety, agitation, heart palpitations, nausea or vomiting," he said. "Of more concern, they may experience a rapid heart rate or seizures."

Another recent study, published in Pediatrics in Review, focused on the risk energy drinks pose to teenagers.

"We know kids are more affected by caffeine than adults," researcher Kwabena Blankson said. "What really worries me are the daily users. They experience symptoms like headaches, digestive problems, hypertension and heart palpitations."

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a maximum daily caffeine intake of 100 mg for adolescents, yet some energy drinks contain as much as 240 mg (Monster Energy XXL) or even 505 mg (Wired X505 24-ounce) of caffeine - not even counting other stimulating or bioactive ingredients, such as guarana or taurine.

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