Family sues over caffeine-related death.
- On March 6, 2015, the family of Logan Stiner, an Ohio teenager who died from cardiac arrhythmia and cardiac arrest after consuming pure powdered caffeine, filed a wrongful death suit under the Ohio Food & Drug Safety Act. The suit names as defendants Amazon.com, six other companies involved in manufacturing, marketing, distributing and selling the product, and Logan’s high school classmate, who allegedly supplied him with the caffeine powder. Following Stiner’s death, FDA posted a consumer advisory warning of the dangers of consuming powdered pure caffeine.
- According to the complaint, the pure caffeine powder was “unsafe and dangerous” and the companies “knew or should have known” that the product at issue was “dangerous, or likely to be dangerous when used in a reasonably foreseeable manner.” The complaint alleges that the product is a misbranded drug, based on, among other things, the listing of pure caffeine in the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) and further alleges that the defendants “have successfully avoided meaningful regulation of [their] product by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by classifying their product as a ‘dietary supplement.'”
- The case underscores the responsibilities businesses involved in manufacturing, marketing, distributing, or selling products have to ensure their products are safe when used in a reasonable foreseeable manner. Regulatory and product liability risks are greatest for products that arguably meet the definition of “drug” under Section 201(g)(1) of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act but are marketed as dietary supplements, conventional foods, medical foods, or cosmetics and are therefore not subject to FDA approval.