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5 Unbelievable Lawsuits Against Beverage Companies

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Red Bull Energy Drink Mixed With Alcohol

It happens all the time, you open up the newspaper or go online and see that someone is yet again suing a big company. When you see that someone is suing a beverage company, it probably catches your eye—because who doesn’t want to know what happens with their favorite drink. Sometimes these lawsuits result in safer and CLEANER manufacturing and distributing of these drinks.

There have been countless lawsuits against beverage companies, and let’s face it, some of them are pretty absurd. When the guy sued Bud Light because drink it didn’t get him all the girls like in the commercials, we all knew that there was no way he would win that case. But what happens when the lawsuits do have grounds? The following lawsuits are five pretty unbelievable cases involving drink companies. To give you fair warning, number five is enough to make your stomach turn.

1. Alcoholic Energy Drinks That Kill

The combination of energy drinks and alcohol seem like they would be a perfect partying combination, but it could kill you. When beverage companies such as Phusion Projects and MillerCoors began manufacturing alcoholic energy drinks they became extremely popular. Drinks like Four Loko and Sparks remove the need to take the extra effort to mix your vodka with a Red Bull. These drinks quickly became a target of many advocacy groups that warned what a dangerous combination they were, and for good reason.

Phusion, maker of Four Loko, has come under fire in the civil court system with many wrongful death suits filed against them. One such lawsuit was brought against the company by the parents of a 15-year-old boy who died after drinking two Four Lokos. The teen had consumed the drinks at a concert where staff contacted his mother because he seemed to be very drunk. The mother went to pick him up and she claims that her son was “paranoid and disoriented.” When they got home, her son ran off and was struck by an oncoming car. As reported by the Huffington Post, their suit claims that Phusion “was careless and negligent in formulating a caffeinated, alcoholic beverage that desensitized users to the symptoms of intoxication, and increases the potential for alcohol-related harm.”

Three manufacturers of alcoholic energy drinks were instructed in November 2010 by the Food and Drug Administration that their drinks were dangerous and needed to be reformulated according to Time Magazine. The FDA gave the companies only 15 days to fix the problem or face the FDA seeking to remove the drink from sale completely. The makers of Sparks and Four Loko complied and removed the caffeine from their beverages, but specialty groups are still advocating for further measures to be taken. It is no wonder, Four Loko contains almost as much alcohol in one can as there is in a six-pack of beer. According to the Huffington Post, there were already five states that had banned these drinks when the FDA made their demand.

2. Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee Too Sweet

We all remember the infamous McDonalds hot coffee lawsuit, but in this lawsuit against Dunkin’ Donuts had nothing to do with temperature. According to a report on Philly.com, Danielle Jordan filed suit against the chain because her coffee is claimed to have caused her to slip into a diabetic coma.

On June 15, 2009 Jordan went to Dunkin’ Donuts and ordered a coffee with artificial sweetener. The coffee maker allegedly ignored this request and used regular sugar instead. Jordan, unaware that there was regular sugar in the drink, downed the coffee and suffered the consequences. Court documents state that Jordan began experiencing light-headedness, dizziness, and numbness in her arms and legs. She then had to be rushed to the hospital due to diabetic shock. She filed suit in June 2011.

A legal representative for 34 of the chains in Philadelphia was unable to comment on the specifics of the case but did make the following statement, “we encounter thousands and thousands of customers on a daily basis. We don’t provide a customer with anything they don’t request. If they request a medium coffee, they will get a medium coffee. If you fail to request a sugar substitute, we can’t read your mind. We sell doughnuts, not crystal balls.”

3. Muscle Milk, Minus the Milk

This case is very odd because rather than a consumer suing the beverage company, another drink maker did! Back in 2009 Nestlé USA sued CytoSport, who manufactures the drink Muscle Milk, claiming that the name and marketing of the drink was misleading. Why was it misleading? Funny you should ask, it is deceptive because Muscle Milk does not actually contain milk.

glass of milk on wooden table

Nestlé filed their objections to the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Since Nestlé makes beverages that contain milk they were outraged that this drink did not contain the ingredient the name called for. CytoSport refused to participate with the NAD so they passed the problem on to the FDA.

The New York Times played devil’s advocate between the two companies asking them both to make statements on the case with the following responses:

Nestlé reported that, “Nestlé USA strongly believes in the nutritional benefits of milk. Consumers looking at Muscle Milk, marketed as a ‘Nutritional Shake,’ are likely to be misled into believing they are purchasing a flavored or supplemented milk product, when, in fact, they are purchasing a water-based product that contains no milk.”

CytoSport also had something to say about the case, telling the NYT “CytoSport’s marketing and advertising materials have made it clear — over the more than 10 years that Muscle Milk has been sold — that Muscle Milk products are high-protein nutrition products designed after one of nature’s most balanced foods: human mother’s milk.”

4. Catch This Scalding Hot Coffee

It’s the stuff of movies, the super-hip barista slides the coffee cup across the counter and it is caught perfectly without a spill by the customer. Who really does that though? One New York Starbucks employee did and it resulted in a lawsuit being slapped against the company for injuries to the customer.

Riffat Qureshi, a self-described model, was at the NYC Starbucks and when she was waiting for her drink the barista allegedly slid the cup across the counter towards her and shouted, “Catch the cup!” She didn’t catch the cup and the hot beverage splashed all over her. Five years after the 2006 incident, she filed suit against the company seeking compensation for her burnt stomach.

The New York Post reported that Starbucks is fighting back, suing Qureshi for fraud. The coffee mogul claims that she is faking her injury. They also claim that they have testimony from her doctor that he had diagnosed Qureshi with a skin infection and it was not a burn.

5. Mice Really Love Those Green Drinks

The moment you have all be waiting for, the most disgusting allegations to come up against beverage companies are those involving claims that rodents were found in the drinks. First of all, YUCK! The makers of both Mountain Dew and Monster Energy Drink have been involved in these cases.

The Monster lawsuit all began when Vitaliy Sulzhik, 19 at the time, purchased a can of Monster at a store in Des Moines, Washington. The Huffington Post reported that the young man discovered the rodent when he was drinking the beverage and some mouse got in his mouth. After losing his lunch—like we all would—he ultimately decided to bring the can, mouse included, to his lawyer, Reed Yurchak. His lawyer then sent it off to a lab to be analyzed.

He has been battling the company for a year to no avail. Monster argued that someone must have placed the mouse in his drink after he already opened it, but according to the lab results there was no indication that the mouse was forced through the opening.

Strangely enough, in a statement released by Monster as to why this lawsuit could not possibly be true is very similar to a defense utilized by Mountain Dew in their case. The mouse couldn’t have been in the can when you opened it because it would have DISINTEGRATED by that point. EW! PepsiCo’s lawyer said that if the mouse alleged to be in a can of Mountain Dew had been in there it would not have been recognizable but would instead merely be a jellied substance.

This brings new meaning to the drinks’ slogans:  beverages
Mountain Dew, “It’ll tickle your innards.”
Monster, “Unleash the beast.”

Product liability is a serious matter. We all know that some lawsuits seem absurd but sometimes people really are harmed by these products and their manufacturers should be held accountable. Happy hydrating everyone, hope there are no furry creatures at the bottom of your beverage.

Disclaimer: Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances.

This article was professionally reviewed by Richard P Console Jr, an attorney licensed to practice in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

Mr. Console has more than twenty years experience practicing personal injury law and successfully resolving vehicle accident claims on behalf of his clients.

Learn more About Richard P Console Jr.

While this information was reviewed for accuracy, it should not be considered legal advice. Every claim is different. If you are thinking of pursuing a personal injury claim and have a question contact us directly. 

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