The family of a Brooklyn man who died shortly after consuming a Red Bull is suing the company for $85 million, claiming that the energy drink gave the otherwise healthy father a fatal heart attack.
According to the Daily News, 33-year-old Cory Terry was playing a game of basketball at Bed-Stuy's Stephen Decatur Middle School in 2011 when he drank a can of Red Bull. After ingesting the drink, Terry became "lightheaded and collapsed." He died of dilated cardiomyopathy, otherwise known as heart failure.
“I know he was healthy and I couldn’t find no other reason for why he died,” Terry's grandmother told the paper. She added that her grandson, a construction worker, was the healthy, non-smoking father of a 13-year-old boy. “He drank that stuff all the time. He said it perked him up."
A medic's report noted Terry's consumption of Red Bull prior to his death. The FDA received 21 reports from Red Bull consumers claiming varying degrees of illness between 2004 and October of 2012 [PDF] (and at least six extreme sports enthusiasts have died in the course of their work promoting Red Bull). The lawsuit filed by Terry's family cites the deaths of nine people worldwide from Red Bull (some involving alcohol).
Energy drinks have been linked to 18 deaths nationwide [PDF], and are responsible for tens of thousands of emergency room visits each year. Last year, the Times and the WSJ reported that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was conducting a probe into the second-largest energy drink in the country, Monster, along with Amp (which is owned by PepsiCo) and Living Essentials LLC, the manufacturer of 5 Hour Energy, to investigate allegations that the companies are improperly labeling their products as "supplements" and not listing ingredients that could increase the actual levels of caffeine in the drinks.
A representative from Schneiderman's press office declined to comment on or acknowledge the probe.
Sales of energy drinks are up 6.7% this year. Red Bull is the industry leader, and according to a spokeswoman, the company has sold 35 billion cans in 165 countries over 25 years "because health authorities across the world have concluded that Red Bull Energy Drink is safe to consume."