Chicago City Council to vote on energy-drink ban

March 4, 2013 4:08:29 PM PST
On the eve of City Council hearings on a proposed ordinance to ban energy drinks in Chicago, the maker of one brand of those beverages is disputing allegations that its products are dangerous.

A Maryland family whose child died after consuming monster energy drinks disagrees. They want to help stop the sale of the drinks.

Alderman Ed Burke has proposed banning high-caffeine energy drinks in Chicago. A hearing Tuesday afternoon will address that proposal.

The mother of the Maryland teenager who died is scheduled to testify at the hearing Tuesday. Wendy Crossland's daughter, Anais Fournier, died in 2011. Fournier is believed to have had a Monster energy drink the day before and another the day she was rushed to the hospital. Those representing Monster say the energy drink is not to blame.

Attorneys representing Monster energy drink chose a local hotel conference room to reveal their report about Anais Fournier on Monday, a day before a Chicago City Council committee considers a ban on high-caffeine energy drinks.

"Caffeine in our product is safe in the amount which is contained in the can," said Monster attorney Daniel Callahan.

In 2011, Fournier was 14 years old. She is believed to have had two Monster energy drinks over two days just before she was rushed to the hospital. She died several days later.

Fournier had a heart condition, and Monster says her death was due to pre-existing conditions. Monster hired doctors to review the autopsy and Fournier's health.

"The physician examining Ms. Fournier's medical record said they found absolutely no connection between Ms. Fournier'salleged consumption of a Monster energy drink and her unfortunate passing," Callahan said.

Fournier died in Maryland. The coroner's opinion reads in part, Fournier "died of cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity."

The attorney representing Fournier's family has filed a lawsuit against Monster. He says Fournier's heart condition was mild and doctors never warned her to stay away from caffeine.

"They got billions of dollars to hire the best PR people on the planet," said attorney Kevin Goldberg in a telephone interview. "They are once again trying to mislead the public and avoid accountability instead of focusing on its failure to warn consumers about the dangers associated with this product."

The autopsy report also shows that a blood test for caffeine was never performed at the hospital.

In the meantime, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has launched an inquiry into caffeine in energy drinks. Senator Dick Durbin requested that inquiry. At this point, the FDA has not made any determinations.