On Monday, the family of a man who died of a heart attack during a basketball game soon after he consumed a can of Red Bull filed an $85 million wrongful death lawsuit against the beverage maker. As the NY Daily News reports, it is believed to be the first ever wrongful death suit against Red Bull — and it comes at a time when lawmakers and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are scrutinizing the potential public health harms of energy products.
According to the Daily News, 33-year-old construction worker Cory Terry regularly drank Red Bulls. His heart stopped after he drank a can during a basketball game in 2011, and medics who arrived at the scene pointed to his consumption of the product in their report. Terry’s relatives say that suggests drinking Red Bull had something to do with his untimely death.
“I know he was healthy and I couldn’t find no other reason for why he died,” said Terry’s grandmother.
The family’s lawyer, Ilya Novofastovsky, said she hopes that the lawsuit will bring even more attention to energy drinks at a time when an increasing number of companies infuse foods and beverages with caffeine, taurine, and other stimulants — some of which aren’t strictly regulated.
“[The ingredients] are more dangerous than what Red Bull lets on,” said Novofastovsky.
Emergency room visits caused by energy drinks more than doubled in the past five years, according to government data. Many of these drinks get around FDA guidelines regulating additives by classifying themselves as “dietary supplements” rather than “drinks” — something which may change as the FDA reexamines the potential harms of energy products.
These drinks may be especially harmful to younger Americans, according to the American Medical Association (AMA). In June, the doctor’s group formally endorsed banning the marketing of energy drinks to children under the age of 18.