Family of deceased Hagerstown teen sues Monster Energy

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Local,Maryland,Ben Giles

The family of a Hagerstown teenager has sued an energy drink company, claiming their beverages contributed to their daughter's death.

A wrongful death lawsuit filed in California Superior Court on Friday claims that drinks produced by Monster Energy Corporation caused 14-year-old Anais Fournier to go into cardiac arrest in December.

Fournier had consumed two 24-ounce Monster Energy drinks in a 24-hour period -- one while at the mall with friends, and another the evening of December 17, 2011 -- before going into cardiac arrest while watching a movie at home. She was taken to the hospital and placed on life support for six days to help reduce brain swelling, but eventually the decision was made to take her off life support.

Fournier never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead on December 23, 2011, according to court records.

The Maryland Medical Examiner's Office determined Fournier died of cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity, which complicated a condition Fournier suffered from called mitral valve regurgitation, according to court records.

The condition can cause one of the heart's valves to malfunction, according to WebMD.

The two energy drinks are believed to have contained 480 milligrams of caffeine, roughly the equivalent of 14 cans of Coca-Cola, according to attorneys for Fournier's parents, Wendy Crossland and Richard Fournier.

The family's case also claims Monster Energy failed to warn of the potential dangers of the drink and its high caffeine content.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates soft drinks, which may contain no more than 71.5 milligrams of caffeine per 12 ounces, but Monster Energy's caffeine content is not regulated because it's consider a dietary supplement, according to Silver Spring-based attorney Kevin Goldberg, who is helping represent Anais Fournier's parents.

"I was shocked to learn the FDA can regulate caffeine in a can of soda, but not these huge energy drinks," Crossland said. "With their bright colors and names like Monster, Rockstar, and Full Throttle, these drinks are targeting teenagers with no oversight or accountability. These drinks are death traps for young, developing girls and boys, like my daughter, Anais."

A spokesman for Monster Energy told the Baltimore Sun the company's beverages are in no way responsible for Fournier's death, and the company intends to fight the charges.

bgiles@washingtonexaminer.com

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