According to news sources, a New Jersey tire salesman has filed a personal injury lawsuit in a state court against the company that makes Four Loko®, an alcoholic beverage that until late 2010 also contained caffeine; he alleges that after drinking two and one-half cans, he was taken to a hospital with heart arrhythmia. Mustica v. Phusion Projects, No. n/a (N.J. Super. Ct., Atlantic County, filed March 16, 2011). Each can purportedly contained the equivalent of three cans of beer and the same amount of caffeine as two cups of coffee. While the maker of the energy drink apparently continues to maintain that mixing alcohol and caffeine is safe, it agreed to remove caffeine from the product in November 2010.

The plaintiff claims that he consumed the beverage on a visit to Atlantic City in October, fell asleep and, on waking, had a racing heart and trouble breathing. Alleging permanent heart damage, the plaintiff also claims that the company “deceitfully packaged” the product to target youth and failed to provide warnings about the potential health risks of mixing a depressant with a stimulant. See MSNBC.com, NJ.com, and Associated Press, March 21, 2011.