The family of a 25-year-old man found dead in the bathroom of his home has filed a wrongful death suit against energy drink companies. Anton Omelin regularly drank Red Bull, NOS and Monster beverages. He died on Oct. 30. His wife, Anna Omelin, alleges her husband drank at least four 16-ounce cans a day. She filed the lawsuit against Red Bull, Monster and the Hansen Beverage Co., which does business as Monster, and distributes Monster and NOS drinks.
The suit contends the companies should warn consumers not to use their products with alcohol, while exercising or in excess. Such warnings, the suit says, would have stopped Anton Omelin, a healthy man, from doing those things. In defense, the companies claim their products are safe.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest said in 2014 that 34 deaths had been linked to energy drinks since 2004. The industry has also faced other wrongful death lawsuits in recent years. This suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma, and seeks unspecified damages. The complaint gives this account of Omelin’s death:
When he learned he’d be taking over the family business – which distributes European food products through the United States – he brought home cognac, fruits and chocolate to celebrate. He had two or three shots of the alcohol between about 7 and 9 p.m. Oct. 29, along with two 16-ounce cans of Red Bull. About 7 the next morning, his wife found him unresponsive on the bathroom floor, and saw vomit nearby. Emergency workers arrived, and he was pronounced dead. The Pierce County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the immediate cause of death was “aspiration of gastric contents,” and noted alcohol intoxication was a factor.
The lawsuit says Omelin drank in moderation, had no prior medical problems and didn’t use illegal drugs. It also noted that studies show a caffeine overdose can cause heart problems, nausea, vomiting, insomnia, convulsions and death – and that combining energy drinks and exercise can cause heart trouble.
The suit alleges the large quantities of caffeine Omelin consumed gave him insomnia, and that as a result he regularly used an exercise machine in the garage and usually showered afterward in the bathroom where his body was found. It’s alleged that energy drinks mask the effects of alcohol, and that mixing the two leads people to drink more. It’s alleged further:
Warnings or instructions were not provided with the products to warn against the use with alcohol, before/during/after physical exercises, and/or overconsumption.
The complaint suggests warnings such as:
• Do not use with alcohol and while exercising;
• Do not exceed two drinks in a 24-hour period; and
• May cause cardiovascular problems, nausea, vomiting, insomnia and death.
Anna Omelin said she wants consumers to think carefully about advertisements for food and beverages. “It’s not always what it shows,” she said. “Learn more and discover for yourself what you are drinking and you are eating, before putting it in your body.” She remembers her husband as a hard worker, who often did work for his job at home. In addition to his wife, he is survived by a teenage stepson and two young children.
Sources: Idaho Statesman and thenewstribune.com