Can sweet caffeinated beverages marketed to youth result in wrongful death? On a November evening in 2011, 33 year old Cory Terry was playing basketball with friends when he collapsed soon after complaining of light-headedness. Mr. Terry later died, the official cause of death being “idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy,” which means his heart stopped. Apparently he drank a Red Bull less than an hour before. And he drank it regularly.
Mr. Terry’s grandmother has filed a groundbreaking $85million wrongful death lawsuit against Red Bull in New York, stating that the caffeine and other stimulants in the popular energy drink combined to be a direct cause of her grandson’s heart attack. She claims that he was a healthy, active man before his death. A lawyer for the family has stated that the stimulant additives in Red Bull are “more dangerous than what Red Bull lets on.”
Did Too Much Caffeine Cause the Wrongful Death?
Red Bull has sold more than 35 billion cans in 25 years. What some people may not know is that Red Bull and similar energy drinks can have caffeine levels as high as 242 milligrams per serving; a popular premium coffee has 415 milligrams in 20 ounces, for example. However, one can isn’t always one serving: energy drink companies can also sell sizes that contain multiple servings, which can potentially catch consumers off guard in regards to how much caffeine they are truly consuming. Further, the other stimulates may have contributed to the cause of the death. Studies have shown that energy drinks can lead to tremors, anxiety, difficulty sleeping, nausea and vomiting, increased heart rate, and even seizures. In New York, there must be proof that the drink was a “substantial factor” and not necessarily the only cause of death.
Failure to Warn of Wrongful Death?
The legal issue in the case may be whether Red Bull was required to “warn” of the potential harm, as they knew, or should have known of the dangers. New York law requires manufactures and distributors to “warn against latent dangers resulting from foreseeable uses” of a product.
Further, the fact that the plaintiff’s trial lawyer identified the amount of damages could be a problem, both for the plaintiff and for other plaintiffs. It is forbidden by the New York civil procedure rules and may result in some penalty in the course of the litigation notwithstanding the fact that it likely resulted in significant media attention.
What Can You Do To Protect from Caffeinated Energy Drinks?
You can help prevent yourself or your loved ones from suffering the side effects of energy drinks by encouraging them to avoid excessive consumption of over-caffeinated beverages. Read the nutrition facts on the side of the container to ensure you are drinking only one serving at a time, or choose to drink a cup of coffee instead, which on average contains only 100 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce serving. You and your family may also be able to naturally keep energy levels up during the day by making sure you eat a good breakfast, stay hydrated with water, and exercise. Those are all excellent, healthy ways to maintain energy without resorting to caffeine or other stimulants.
Health Risks can Lead to Accidents and Wrongful Death
The negative health effects that may accompany drinking energy drinks can potentially stretch outside what customers may initially realize. A person who has had more than a safe amount of caffeine may begin to have a seizure while driving down the road. A bus driver may fall asleep at the wheel while experiencing a sugar or caffeine “crash.” Pedestrians, other drivers, and passengers in the area may be at risk for injury, and potentially even death. Those claims could potentially fall under the category of wrongful death.
Contact Boston Trial Attorney Neil Burns
Wrongful death claims can be very difficult on the families of the victims. They may have to relieve the details of the accident and explain the effects the death of the victim has had on their family. Attorney Neil Burns has over 28 years of experience assisting families with injury and wrongful death claims. He will be the caring, aggressive attorney your family needs to be successful. The initial consultation is always free and there is no cost to you until your family wins.