Product Liability

Red Bull makers face wrongful death lawsuit

Red Bull Shutterstock 315x210 Red Bull makers face wrongful death lawsuitA Georgia federal judge has ruled that the makers of Red Bull cannot skirt a $60 million lawsuit from the family of a man who claims he died from a serious heart complication aggravated by drinking a large quantity of the energy drink, according to Law360.

Red Bull North America Inc. had filed a motion to dismiss the wrongful death lawsuit involving William Jacob Wade, who died in August 2014 from an aortic dissection. But U.S. District Judge Lisa G. Wood denied the motion, saying Red Bull unpersuasively characterizes the complaint as an “improper shotgun pleading” and that the court assumes the truth of the facts alleged in the complaint.

The lawsuit was filed Feb. 23 by Ann Edenfield Lemley, Wade’s mother. She alleges her 44-year-old son died after consuming a toxic amount of caffeine and other chemicals contained in Red Bull. According to her complaint, since 2009, Wade drank about four 12-ounce cans of Red Bull throughout the day, every day.

“More specifically, on Aug. 7, 2014, Mr. Wade consumed a 12-ounce can of Red Bull ‘energy drink’ at approximately 8 p.m. and another 12-ounce can the following morning of Aug. 8th. Subsequently … he was found unresponsive. At around 2 p.m. on Aug. 8, 2014, he was pronounced dead. The autopsy report states that Mr. Wade ‘died as the result of aortic dissection.’”

An aortic dissection is a tear in the inner layer of the large blood vessel branching off the heart. It is most common in men in their 60s and 70s. Anything that weakens the aortic wall can cause an aortic dissection.

Lemley’s lawsuit claims that adverse events from as far back as 2000 have linked Red Bull to deadly cardiovascular injuries, including an 18-year-old athlete who died during a basketball game after drinking Red Bull, and a 21-year-old student who died in a night club after drinking about four cans of the energy drink. Red Bull contains excessive amounts of caffeine as well as taurine.

Several people have filed lawsuits against the makers of Red Bull and other energy drink manufacturers including 5-Hour Energy and Monster energy drinks. The lawsuits allege the drinks can cause serious cardiovascular events, some of which can be fatal.

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