The estate of Logan Stiner, an Ohio teenager who died in May 2014 after ingesting pure caffeine powder purchased from Amazon, has filed a lawsuit against the online retailer and the companies that manufacture and market the powder. Stiner v. Amazon.com Inc., No. 15CV185837 (C.P. Lorain Cnty., filed March 6, 2015).
According to the complaint, “pure caffeine is a drug” under Ohio law, but the powder manufacturers have “successfully avoided meaningful regulation of [the] product by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by classifying their product as a ‘dietary supplement,’” which leaves them “responsible for determining that pure caffeine powder is safe.” The companies “failed to alert users of the known risks and side effects of ingesting caffeine powder, including the risk of cardiac arrhythmia and cardiac arrest,” the reaction that killed Stiner, the complaint says. The estate also alleges that the companies did not conduct adequate testing of the product’s effects before selling it, including Amazon, which is “responsible for evaluating the safety of [its] products, including caffeine powder prior to promoting, advertising and marketing it.”
In addition to negligence, the estate alleges violations of the Ohio Food & Drug Safety Act and argues for strict liability for a design defect, inadequate warnings and nonconformance with representations of the caffeine powder.