A Kansas City woman believes a caffeine-filled energy drink is to blame for her husband's death.
Heather Felts has filed a lawsuit in Jackson County Circuit Court against Monster Energy Corp. and the local company, McKeever Enterprises Inc., that distributed the drink in the Kansas City area.
Felts believes that Monster purposefully markets its drinks as a dietary supplement to avoid review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which would occur if it were identified as a food or drink. She contends that Monster drinks contain a potentially lethal dose of caffeine.
Energy drinks are up to almost $10 billion annually.
In her lawsuit, Felts says her husband, Shane Felts, consumed a 24-ounce can of Monster Energy, Extra Strength with Nitrous Technology on June 24, 2012.
Felts said her husband began to complain of chest pains that evening. She said about 2:15 a.m. that he went to the bathroom to vomit.
Soon after, she heard a "thud" and found her unconscious husband on the bathroom floor. She called 911 and paramedics rushed him to North Kansas City Hospital. He would die there at 3:30 a.m. June 25, 2012, after suffering a heart attack.
The drink that Shane Felts consumed had at least 240 milligrams of caffeine. Felts' lawsuit says that caffeine can be lethal in doses ranging from 200 to 400 milligrams.
She also claims that Monster does not list the potentially harmful ingredients and the risks associated with them.
Dr. Stephen Thornton of the University of Kansas Hospital said caffeine toxicity can bring on cardiac problems and uncontrolled seizures.
"So those things can occur," Thornton said. "Those are rare on the extreme, but they have been reported."
He said unregulated products like energy drinks can be an issue for consumers.
"I think it presents a danger and I think it takes advantage of a certain trust that we as Americans have that the things we buy, that we know what's in them, that someone has tested them, that it is safe," Thornton said. "There's a great big loophole that kind of let's them do whatever they want."
Felts is seeking at least $15,000 in damages.
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