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Wrongful death liability suit brought against Red Bull

Chances are you’ve heard of Red Bull, even if you’re not an occasional or avid drinker of the company’s hugely popular energy drink of the same name. Statistics provided by the company indicate that Red Bull -- an Austrian company created in 1987 and reportedly the world’s largest energy drink manufacturer -- has sold more than 35 billion cans of its product over the past quarter century.

That makes for a lot of Ohioans and other Americans virtually everywhere else across the country imbibing with some regularity.

Should they be concerned? Is there a potential downside in the product for some consumers?

A wrongful death product liability lawsuit recently filed in New York states that there is. The litigation was filed last week by the grandmother of a Brooklyn man who collapsed and died of heart failure after drinking a can of Red Bull during an exercise rest period. The legal complaint links Red Bull to nine deaths globally and also points to studies that it states connect the product with health risks.

Among other things, the lawsuit charges the drink maker with inadequately failing to warn of such risks.

United States Food and Drug Administration inspectors are well acquainted with Red Bull. Although the agency has never taken any remedial action against Red Bull, such as requiring the company to issue warning labels, a spokesperson says that, “If we find that something is dangerous to consumers, we’ll certainly take action.”

Some people might argue that the time for doing so has already passed. A federal study from 2009 noted that consumption of energy drinks in the United States was tied to about 13,000 emergency room visits. Moreover, the FDA has noted 18 deaths that that could be connected to energy drinks.

Source: New York Daily News, "Brooklyn man killed by drinking Red Bull, $85 million lawsuit alleges," Oren Yaniv, Oct. 28, 2013

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