San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera is engaged in litigation against Monster Beverage Corporation for violating California law with its marketing of highly-caffeinated energy drinks to children as young as six-years-old, despite scientific findings that such products may cause “significant morbidity in adolescents” from elevated blood pressure, brain seizures, and severe cardiac events.
Herrera’s lawsuit, which was filed in San Francisco Superior Court on May 6, 2013, came one week after Monster pre-emptively sued Herrera in an extraordinary legal attempt to halt his office’s months-long investigation into the marketing and sales practices of the nation’s largest energy drink manufacturer.
Herrera’s office had been working with Monster in good faith to negotiate voluntary changes to its youth-targeted marketing practices when the Corona, Calif.-based energy drink manufacturer abruptly sued the City Attorney in federal court on April 29, 2013. Herrera characterized Monster’s litigation strategy as “forum shopping” and a bid to win the race to the courthouse, and has vowed to not back down.
Said Herrera: “Monster Energy is unique among energy drink makers for the extent to which it targets children and youth in its marketing, despite the known risks its products pose to young people’s health and safety. Consumption of highly caffeinated energy drinks by children has been widely condemned by pediatricians and scientists, and the NCAA has banned its member institutions from providing these products even to college athletes because of the grave safety risks. When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last week announced its investigation into the addition of caffeine to products like Monster, it expressed particular concern about aggressive marketing to young people. Yet Monster Energy remains defiant. As the industry’s worst offender, Monster Energy should reform its irresponsible and illegal marketing practices before they’re forced to by regulators or courts.”
Monster Energy Litigation Timeline
(Reverse chronological order)
- July 23, 2014: The California Supreme Court denies review to Monster Energy’s petition to stay City Attorney Herrera’s consumer protection action.
- Dec. 16, 2013: Monster Energy’s suit against San Francisco City Attorney is thrown out of federal court; With Monster v. Herrera, nation’s largest energy drink maker sought to block California case over marketing of harmful caffeinated products to children, youth
- Dec. 16, 2013: Monster v. Herrera ruling PDF presskit
- July 31, 2013: Herrera praises U.S. Senate scrutiny on energy drink companies’ marketing to young people; Hearings echo S.F. City Attorney’s cause of action in California consumer protection suit against industry leader, Monster Energy, for targeting kids as young as six
- July 31, 2013: Herrera’s statement on Senate Committee hearing on Energy Drink Marketing to Youth PDF Presskit
- June 3, 2013: Herrera seeks dismissal of Monster Energy’s lawsuit to block S.F. City Attorney investigation; S.F. City Attorney blasts Monster’s ‘frivolous’ attempt to ‘avoid accountability for recklessly targeting children’ in marketing drinks known to pose health risks (June 3, 2013)
- June 3, 2013: City’s motion to dismiss Monster v. Herrera PDF presskit
- May 6, 2013: News Release: “San Francisco sues Monster Energy for marketing to kids despite grave health dangers; ‘Significant morbidity in adolescents’ — including severe cardiac events, brain seizures — risked by highly-caffeinated drinks, according to pediatricians, scientists”
- May 6, 2013: Presskit PDF: People v. Monster Energy presskit
- May 3, 2013: News Release: “FDA’s investigation into safety of caffeine for children, adolescents wins praise from Herrera; Federal regulators’ announcement comes days after Monster Energy sued to halt Herrera’s investigation into marketing of potentially unsafe products to children”
- May 3, 2013: Presskit PDF: City Attorney’s response statement presskit to the FDA’s caffeine investigation
- May 3, 2013: U.S. Food and Drug Administration announcement: “FDA to Investigate Added Caffeine” (external link)
- April 30, 2013: News release: “Herrera blasts Monster Energy’s lawsuit over unlawful marketing to youth, product safety; Pre-emptive litigation aims to halt City Attorney’s investigation into allegations that Monster Energy markets potentially unsafe products to children”
- April 30, 2013: Presskit PDF: City Attorney’s response to Monster v. Herrera presskit
- April 29, 2013: Lawsuit PDF: Monster v. Herrera lawsuit
- March 19, 2013: News Release: “Herrera, 18 scientists urge FDA action on Monster, other caffeinated energy drinks; City Attorney calls letters an ‘important step we can take at the national level,’ while City’s investigation of Monster Energy Drinks’ business practices continues”
- March 19, 2013: Letter from Herrera and 18 scientists to the FDA re: caffeinated energy drinks
- Nov. 2, 2012: News Release: “Herrera demands answers on safety, marketing claims of Monster Energy Drinks; City Attorney employs tough consumer protection provision of California law to seek substantiation for health-based claims”
- Nov. 2, 2012: Letter from Herrera to Monster requesting verification for health safety claims