Red Bull Wrongful Death Lawsuit Seeks $85M

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By Betty Wang, JD on October 28, 2013 11:21 AM

Red Bull is being sued in an alleged case of wrongful death. A Brooklyn man's heart allegedly stopped after he polished off a can of the energy drink, the New York Daily News reports.

Cory Terry was 33 when he died of a heart attack in 2011, allegedly after drinking Red Bull during a basketball game. His relatives are now suing the drink company for $85 million in what's believed to be the first wrongful death suit against Red Bull.

But will the suit succeed? Here's a breakdown of what the victim's family will have to prove in a wrongful death case:

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

Wrongful death lawsuits allege that a person's death is due to the negligence or misconduct of another. Typically, a victim's family sues for wrongful death in order to recover for certain types of losses. This can include, but is not limited to, loss of income, loss of parental guidance, and loss of consortium.

Generally speaking, a wrongful death lawsuit must contain the following elements:

  • A death that is caused by another's negligence (or intent to cause harm),
  • A family member(s) who is suffering monetary injury as a result of the death, and
  • The appointment of a personal representative for the decedent's estate.

In the Red Bull lawsuit, Cory Terry's lawyer asserts the drink contains "extra stimulants" that "are more dangerous than what Red Bull lets on," the Daily News reports. A spokeswoman countered that the product is safe.

Was Red Bull Negligent?

In order for Red Bull to be found responsible, the company must have been found to be negligent. Negligence involves a duty of care, the breach of that duty, the cause of the injury being due to that breach, and damages.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), between 2004 and 2012, has received 21 reports from hospitals attributing Red Bull to a list of symptoms including chest pain, fatigue, and dizziness, according to the Daily News. Those reports could lend credence to the potential argument that Red Bull had a duty to consumers to reassess its product.

Energy drink companies are also no stranger to potential wrongful death lawsuits. Both Monster and 5-Hour Energy have also been allegedly tied to fatalities in the past.

The FDA is currently researching the effects of caffeinated energy drinks. A Red Bull spokeswoman declined to comment on any specific allegations.

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