Pre-emptive litigation aims to halt City Attorney’s investigation into allegations that Monster Energy markets potentially unsafe products to children
SAN FRANCISCO (April 30, 2013) — San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera today responded to an apparently pre-emptive lawsuit filed by Monster Beverage Corporation asking a federal judge to issue a court order to halt Herrera’s investigation into possible violations of California law involved in Monster’s marketing of energy drinks to children as young as 11 and even 6 years of age.
“Monster Energy is claiming an unfettered right to continue marketing its products to children and youth, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that its products pose serious risks to young people’s health and safety,” said Herrera. “I strongly disagree with Monster’s legal contention, and I intend to litigate this case aggressively to reform their irresponsible marketing and business practices, which I believe clearly violate California’s consumer protection laws.”
Herrera’s Consumer Protection Unit launched an investigation into the Corona, Calif.-based beverage manufacturer’s business and marketing practices last October in light of mounting scientific consensus that highly caffeinated energy drinks pose potentially serious health risks to young people. Last month, Herrera joined 18 scientists and public health experts in urging the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to take more aggressive regulatory action to protect children and adolescents from the dangers, citing FDA data that consumption of Monster Energy had been implicated in at least five reported deaths.
As recently as last week, the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office was negotiating in good faith to obtain Monster Beverage Corporation’s voluntary agreement to end an array of marketing practices aimed at children and youth, including their promotion of Monster Energy drinks on schools and at school-sponsored sporting events. Evidence of actionable marketing tactics uncovered in Herrera’s investigation include a “Monster Army” social networking community with children as young as 11 and even 6 years of age, and a “Monster Energy Drink Player of the Game” series, which photographs high school athletes with two four-packs — fully 128 ounces — of highly-caffeinated Monster products.
The case is: Monster Beverage Corporation v. Dennis Herrera, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Eastern Division, CV-13-00786, filed April 29, 2013. The lawsuit and all supporting documentation in the case are available on the San Francisco City Attorney’s website at: http://www.sfcityattorney.org.