A putative class action filed in a California state court claims that Monster Rehab®, a green tea and energy drink, contains unknown amounts of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (ECGC), “an extremely dangerous and potentially lethal ingredient,” and that the company fails to warn consumers of its potential hepatotoxic side effects. Wooding v. Monster Energy Co., No. 30-2012-00609716-CU-BT-CXC (Cal. Super. Ct., Orange Cnty., filed November 5, 2012). While the named plaintiff, a Huntington Beach, California, resident, has not apparently experienced any side effects, she claims to have “suffered injury in fact and has lost money and property as a result of the unfair, deceptive, untrue and misleading advertising described herein, including the purchase price for products that are of little or no value and are dangerous.”

Among other matters, the plaintiff claims that those with compromised livers should not drink the product, nor should it be consumed with alcohol. Yet, she points to ads suggesting that the product be consumed as a pick-me-up after a long night of partying. While ECGC apparently has anti-oxidant properties in small doses, the plaintiff alleges that 20-year-old research recognized the ingredient’s “liver-toxic effects . . . when used in the doses present in dietary supplements.” The plaintiff also notes that the product cannot, as the company purportedly claims, function to re-hydrate because it contains caffeine, which is a diuretic.

The complaint cites a number of cases of liver injury in France and Spain between 1999 and 2003 allegedly linked to a supplement containing green tea extract. ECGC is evidently a tea catechin found in green tea. The complaint also includes information about liver toxicity reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration between 2002 and 2009 purportedly linked to Hydroxycut®, another product containing ECGC.

Seeking to represent a nationwide class of consumers, the plaintiff alleges violations of the Consumers Legal Remedies Act and California Business and Professions Code, breach of express and implied warranties, and unjust enrichment. She requests an order “directing Defendants to identify, with Court supervision, victims of their conduct and pay them restitution and disgorgement of all monies acquired by Defendants by means of any act or practice declared by this Court to be wrongful,” a corrective advertising campaign, punitive and treble damages, attorney’s fees, and costs.