NEW YORK – A lawsuit filed Oct. 24 seeks a judgment of $85 million against Red Bull North America, Inc. following the death of Cory Terry, then age 33, on Nov. 8, 2011. Mr. Terry drank Red Bull before and while playing basketball in Brooklyn, N.Y., that day and then went into cardiac arrest. He was pronounced dead at Woodhull Medical and Mental Health Center in Brooklyn.
Patricia Ann Terry, the grandmother of Mr. Terry, filed the lawsuit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Kings. Novo Law Firm PC of New York City represents her.
The lawsuit states Red Bull North America failed to warn or disclose to consumers the known risks and side effects of consuming Red Bull, including the risk of cardiac arrhythmia and cardiac arrest, from which Mr. Terry died.
“Had defendant properly disclosed and warned of the significant risk of suffering adverse cardiac episodes, including cardiac arrhythmias, due to the consumption of Red Bull, a product containing exorbitant levels of caffeine, taurine and other harmful chemicals, plaintiff-decedent would not have purchased and consumed Red Bull drinks,” the lawsuit said. “Defendants failure in designing, manufacturing, marketing, distributing, warning and/or selling Red Bull drinks directly and proximately caused plaintiff-decedent to suffer cardiac arrhythmia and cardiac arrest and ultimately caused death.”
The lawsuit cites other instances of death, including those in Ireland, Sweden and England, that happened after people drank Red Bull. The lawsuit also cites studies showing harmful effects of ingesting too many caffeine-containing and taurine-containing energy drinks.
Red Bull North America, Santa Monica, Calif., said it does not comment on particular legal matters. An 8.4-oz can of Red Bull energy drink contains 80 mg of caffeine, about the equivalent amount of caffeine as a cup of home-brewed coffee, according to the company.
“Red Bull energy drink is available in more than 165 countries because health authorities across the world have concluded that Red Bull energy drink is safe to consume,” Red Bull North America said in a statement sent to Food Business News. “More than 5 billion cans were consumed last year and about 35 billion cans since Red Bull was created more than 25 years ago.”
According to the Food and Drug Administration, adult consumption of up to 400 mg a day of caffeine is not generally associated with dangerous, negative effects.
The lawsuit seeks $50 million for punitive damages and $5 million for each of seven causes of action. The seven causes are strict liability — design defect; strict liability — failure to warn; negligence — design, manufacture and sale; negligence — failure to warn; fraud; breach of implied warranties; and wrongful death.
“Defendant willfully, wantonly and maliciously, and with conscious disregard for, and indifference to, the health and safety of consumers, including plaintiff-decedent, failed and refused to supply adequate warnings and/or information to protect consumers and/or otherwise reduce or eliminate the health risks to consumers associated with the consumption of Red Bull,” the lawsuit said.