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New Jersey man sues energy drink maker for product liability

Any time a manufacturer produces and distributes a product that turns out to be defective or dangerous, potentially causing harm to consumers, anyone who is harmed is usually within their rights to file suit against the manufacturer. Such products liability lawsuits are somewhat different from suits relating to other injury laws because the companies or individuals responsible for selling a product are presumed to have a duty to protect consumers from harm caused by their products.

One New Jersey resident recently filed a product liability lawsuit against the maker of 5-Hour Energy drinks, alleging the product not only left him dehydrated but also made him lose consciousness and fall down a flight of stairs, suffering a brain injury in the process.

The company that manufacturers the 5-Hour Energy products, Innovation Ventures LLC (doing business as Living Essentials) has been under investigation by the Food and Drug Administration since at least 2012. FDA officials have said the products may have been involved in more than a dozen deaths, although the specifics in each incident remain under investigation. The FDA warned the defendants that the products posed dangers to consumers.

The New Jersey suit names the following as defendants: Innovation Ventures, its owner Manoj Bhargava, and Bio Clinical Development Inc.

Although the defendants' attorneys successfully argued that a New Jersey court had no jurisdiction over the company, which is based in Michigan, a judge is still allowing some elements of the suit to proceed.

Manufacturers and sellers are expected to perform product recalls from the market whenever they have solid information that the products are defective and have either caused harm or can be expected to cause harm. Dangers can stem from design defects or manufacturing defects, and if the product has adverse side effects, then a failure to warn consumers can make the manufacturer liable.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Man may sue 5-Hour Energy for seizures," Rose Bouboushian, April 14, 2014

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