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. n/a (Cook County Cir. Ct., Illinois, 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.