Energy drinks are big business, as they have become a popular choice for individuals seeking a quick boost of energy and alertness. The drinks have become the fastest-growing segment of the beverage industry, and the market has grown steadily since Red Bull was introduced in 1997. Promoted as an alternative to morning coffee, a mixer with evening cocktails, and good for any time you need an energy boost, the secret behind their success may also be their biggest drawback – caffeine.
Federal law places no limits on the amount of caffeine in energy drinks and does not require companies to disclose the caffeine content on labels, which varies among the brands. An 8-oz. can of Red Bull might have 80 mg. of caffeine, while a 32-oz. can of Monster contains 320 mg. Every person reacts differently to this stimulant drug. As a result, some who were just seeking an energy boost have been harmed by energy drinks, which have now been associated with causing death. The FDA reports that between 2004 and 2014, there have been 34 deaths linked to energy drinks – with half occurring since 2012. Of these, 22 deaths were linked to 5-Hour Energy, 11 deaths were linked to Monster and one to Rockstar. The FDA was also informed about 241 non-fatal events where consumers experienced high blood pressure, convulsions, heart attacks and other problems.
These problems have led to several lawsuits due to the toxic effects of the large amounts of caffeine and other stimulants in these drinks. If you or a loved one has been harmed or someone has died after consuming an energy drink, you may be entitled to compensation, and a consultation with a personal injury lawyer can help determine whether you have a case.
Why Energy Drinks Can be Bad for Your Health
According to the National Institute of Health, energy drinks are designed to give an “energy boost” through a combination of stimulants and energy boosters, the major constituent of which is caffeine. Most of the brands on the market also contain large amounts of glucose, and some brands offer artificially sweetened versions. Other commonly used constituents found in these drinks are taurine, methylxanthines, vitamin B, ginseng, guarana, yerba mate, acai, maltodextrin, inositol, carnitine, creatine, glucuronolactone, and ginkgo biloba.
The high levels of caffeine, sugars and stimulants pose risks, particularly to individuals with heart conditions, as several studies have shown an increase in heart rate and arterial blood pressure after energy drink consumption. While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises that most “healthy adults” can safely consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, people develop symptoms of caffeine intoxication in doses equal to or above 200 mg that include anxiety, insomnia, gastrointestinal upset, muscle twitching, restlessness, and periods of inexhaustibility. For young people whose brains are not fully developed, the effects can be worse, and there is a study linking traumatic brain injury (TBI) and energy drinks in teens.
Additional health risks of energy drinks include:
- Sugar Overload: The high amount of sugar contributes to the risk of weight gain, type 2 diabetes, and dental problems.
- Dehydration: The diuretic effect of caffeine in energy drinks can contribute to dehydration, which can lead to kidney problems and electrolyte imbalances.
- Adverse Effects on Mental Health: Issues such as anxiety and insomnia have been reported.
Panera Bread Energy Lemonade Lawsuits
Panera Bread was hit with two lawsuits in 2023 for wrongful death due to the caffeine-charged lemonade they serve. Panera’s charged lemonade has 260 milligrams of caffeine in its regular size, while the large size has 390 milligrams, close to the maximum recommended for adults by the FDA. The drinks are sweet and appeal to young people, and since some people often drink more than one at a time, the potential for harmful effects is increased for people who are sensitive or have underlying conditions. The two lawsuits involve a college student with a heart condition who died after drinking charged lemonade and a 46-year-old Florida man who passed away in October after consuming three servings of the drink.
Allegations in these lawsuits are:
- Panera “knew or should have known” that the charged lemonade could pose risks, particularly to children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and individuals sensitive to caffeine.
- The drink poses a risk because it is mixed at individual store locations, meaning its caffeine content is not strictly controlled.
- Charged lemonade was offered alongside non-caffeinated options at Panera and was not advertised as an energy drink with accompanying warnings.
Potential Lawsuits for Energy Drinks
Individuals who suffered harm due to the consumption of energy drinks, may have several ways to file lawsuits. These include:
- Product Liability Claims: Products marketed to consumers are supposed to be safe or provide adequate warnings about potential health risks. If the energy drink manufacturer or distributor or salesperson failed to do so and someone was harmed, a claim may be pursued.
- Personal Injury: Individuals who experience severe side effects, such as heart problems or organ damage from energy drinks, may have grounds to file personal injury lawsuits, or wrongful death lawsuits, if a death resulted.
- Class Action Lawsuits: In cases where multiple individuals have suffered similar harm from a particular energy drink, class action lawsuits may allow affected individuals to collectively seek compensation for damages.
Get Help if Harmed by an Energy Drink
If you or a loved one has been harmed by an energy drink, you may be entitled to compensation for both your monetary costs and your noneconomic damages such as physical and emotional pain and suffering. These cases are complicated, and large companies such as Panera Bread and energy drink manufacturers have high-powered lawyers working to deny claims, but you do not have to fight them on your own. Help is available from the experienced personal injury lawyers at the Johnson Law Firm, in Pikeville, KY.
Call us now for a free case evaluation to determine if you have a case and the best way to proceed.