According to a news source, the family of a teenager has sued Phusion
Projects, which makes the alcohol energy drink Four Loko®, alleging that
their son’s disorientation after drinking two of the beverages led to his fatal
accident. Rupp v. Phusion Projects, No. __ (Ill. Cir. Ct., Cook Cty., filed
May 19, 2011). He allegedly consumed the beverage during a concert in 2010,
and his parents picked him up after concert staff contacted them claiming the
boy “appeared extremely intoxicated.” The family alleges that their son acted
“paranoid and disoriented” on the ride home and took off running when they
arrived home. He apparently died when he was struck by a car after running
onto a busy highway.

The family reportedly alleges in the wrongful death lawsuit that the company
“was careless and negligent in formulating a caffeinated, alcoholic beverage
that desensitizes users to the symptoms of intoxication, and increases
the potential for alcohol-related harm.” The complaint contends that one
23-ounce can of Four Loko® contains about as much alcohol as a six-pack of
beer and that the company targets youths by making the product with fruit
flavors. The teen’s mother was quoted as saying, “I hope other parents will
talk to their children about this drink. We don’t want any other family to go
through the sheer terror of losing a child.”

Phusion has reportedly indicated that it plans to fight the lawsuit and denied
marketing its products to underage drinkers. The company removed the
product’s caffeine in December 2010, after the Food and Drug Administration
warned that the added caffeine was an “unsafe food additive.” See Chicago Sun-Times, May 19, 2011.

About The Author

For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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