We’ve all been there: groggily sloughing through a late-night test or early-morning trip on a sleep-deprived tank. Many turn to coffee just to get them through the challenging period in question. For some, however, coffee just doesn’t cut it. Some crave an energy jolt that’s immediate, more intense, and longer term. Monster Energy Drinks, in particular, have been known to satiate the higher-intensity need.
While widely known as a go-to for those who need to stay awake, one Monster Energy drink contains the amount of caffeine as about 4 ½ 12 oz. cans of Coca-Cola, according to filed lawsuits. (Monster claims a 16-oz can actually contains less than half the caffeine of a medium Starbucks coffee). However, it is now becoming known for a less-desirable reason: some are claiming the drinks are not safe, and that heart attacks, stroke, and kidney failure can accompany the caffeine torpedo.
Robert Grim is one of those decrying Monster Energy. A twentysomething former avid Monster Energy drinker, he downed 4 cans per day. He claims that, after drinking a can of Monster Energy one December 2014 morning, as was his daily routine, he began driving to work. However, he had to pull over and call in sick after starting to feel nauseous. His vision also became blurred. Upon returning home, his symptoms only worsened. He rushed to the emergency room that day, where he was diagnosed with stage 4 kidney disease. Mr. Grim is now on dialysis awaiting a kidney transplant.
The four Monster Energy drinks he had guzzled per day yielded the caffeine present in about 18 12-oz cans of Coca-Cola, he alleges.
Mr. Grim is now bringing suit against Monster Beverage Corp., along with 5 other people, alleging “irreversible and near-fatal health problems they claim were caused by long-term use of the energy drink.” Specifically, the suit alleges that those who habitually enjoyed the caffeine overloads suffered heart attacks, stroke, renal failure, and other health concerns. Monster—the suit claims—is guilty of negligence, defective design, failure to warn of risks associated with the consumption of the drink, and other violations. The attorney who filed suit equated the risk of harm to that posted by cigarettes.
Monster has already faced litigation relating to the harm consuming its beverages can pose. A California mother filed suit in 2013 after her 19-year-old son died from cardiac arrhythmia. The son allegedly consumed two cans of the energy drink every day for three years, including the day he died. In 2012, the family of a 14-year-old girl who had a heart condition filed suit against the company after she went into cardiac arrest after gulping two 24-oz cans within a 24-hour period. Her autopsy revealed that caffeine toxicity impeded her heart’s ability to pump blood.
How much caffeine does Monster actually have? That seems to be unknown. Monster bypassed FDA regulation by its categorizing itself as a “dietary supplement” as opposed to a “food” when it launched in 2002. Lawsuits claim this was a strategic move on the company’s part to avoid limits on caffeine content that are imposed on soft drinks and other beverages. Monster now markets the drinks as “beverages.” A company spokeswoman said the company planned to add a caffeine content label per can. However, at present, there is no plan to alter its recipe.
For its part, Monster vehemently defends its drinks and denies they contain the amount of caffeine lawsuits claim. Additionally, it states that its ingredients, such as taurine, l-carnitine and inositol, have been in infant formulas for decades.
Those who have been harmed, however, aren’t buying it. Put warnings on the cans, they say. Reveal the recipe.