Wrongful death lawsuits can be based upon medical malpractice, an impaired driver or an act of violence. In at least one case, a family is suing over the death attributed to caffeine powder which has been marketed as a dietary supplement.
The substance is virtually unregulated and available from online vendors. Caffeine powder is also sold in stores alongside vitamins and protein powders. Packages usually contain warning labels although their use is not mandated.
A teaspoon of caffeine powder is equivalent to 16 to 25 cups of coffee. A tablespoon, approximately 10 grams, is lethal to adults. A 100-gram package costs around $10.00 and contains as much caffeine as 400 tall cups of Starbucks coffee, 1,250 Red Bulls or 3,000 cans of Coke.
A high school senior was found by his brother on their living room floor before his graduation. He used a caffeine powder that his friend purchased from Amazon. However, he miscalculated the powder’s dosage, overdosed and died. According to the medical examiner, excessive caffeine ingestion led to acute caffeine toxicity which caused cardiac arrhythmia and seizure. His family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Amazon, other vendors and the firm who gave him the powder over the sales and distribution of the powder.
A 24-year-old graduate student in Georgia, a few weeks later, blended a drink with powdered caffeine that he purchased online. He believed that pure caffeine and water would be healthier than the soft drink he usually drank. He overdosed after taking the powder, went into a coma and died.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory in July, after these fatalities, for consumers to avoid the powder. New York’s Suffolk County also banned the sale of powdered caffeine to minors last fall. A bill was also introduced in the state assembly to ban the sale of this substance. Similar bills were introduced in four other states.
These types of loosely or unregulated substances, while appearing innocuous, can lead to a fatal accident. Families should seek prompt legal assistance to help assure that their right to compensation may be protected.
Source: The New York Times, “Caffeine Powder Poses Deadly Risks,” Murray Carpenter, May 18, 2015