Red Bull might give you wings but probably not the kind that Cory Terry was hoping for. On the evening Nov. 8th 2011, the 33 year-old construction worker gulped down a can of the caffeine based drink while playing a game of basketball at a middle school in Brooklyn, New York. In less than 45 minutes, Terry collapsed on the scene and died. According to The New York Daily News, medic’s who examined Terry’s body said that his heart just stopped beating.
On Monday, Terry’s family will file a personal injury lawsuit against the world’s most popular energy drink in order to collect $85 million in damages for Terry’s death. Llya Novofastovky, the lawyer who is filing the lawsuit on behave of the Terry family, must now prove in a New York court that Terry’s death was a direct cause of negligence on Red Bull’s part. In the court of law, negligence is defined as carelessness or irresponsible actions by the defendant (Red Bull) that has directly caused harm or injury to the plaintiff (Terry’s family).
“Extra stimulants make it different than a cup of coffee,” Novofastovky told The New York Daily News. “They are more dangerous than what Red Bull let’s on.”
If Terry’s family can prove in court that the stimulants in Red Bull’s energy drink were a factor in Terry’s death, they can also claim that Red Bull’s lack of effort to make their products safe or to warn Terry of the dangers of its effects was negligence in product liability. Product liability is a body of law that holds manufacturers, distributors, suppliers, and retailers who make products available to the public responsible for the injuries these products cause. A FDA report that suspects 18 deaths and 13,000 hospital visits being link to energy drink consumption gives strong evidence that Red Bull might have been negligent to its responsibility to uphold its product liability.
To prove Red Bull’s negligence in court, Novofastovky must prove five facts in court according to Wikipedia. The first fact that must be established is that Red Bull had a duty owed to Terry to provide him with a safe energy drink at the time that Terry bought the drink. A breach of that duty to provide Terry with a safe energy drink must then be established. Then the breach of that duty must be proven to be the cause of Terry’s death. Finally, the injury or death of Terry must be measurable in order to collect damages.
A personal injury case like this is categorized as a tort law which includes civil wrongs that leaves economic or non-economic damages to a person’s property, reputation, or rights. The expenses of Terry’s funeral services and loss of his house-hold income are legally tangible as evidence of damages. These types of damages that can be measured by cost are called special damages.
Although the $85 million that Terry’s family is suing Red Bull for would be more than enough to cover Terrys’ 13 year-old’s college fund many times over, those expenses still might not account for general damages. General damages include damages that can’t be measured such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of consortium. Due to the potential negligence of Red Bull, Terry’s son has experienced the most loss of consortium since he will no longer be able to find love and affection from his father again.
Novofastoky has his work cut-out for him for this case. It will take extensive research and investigation to prove in trial that the can of Red Bull that Terry drank two years ago was the direct cause of his death especially since Terry had consumed the drink before with no problems. Red Bull also still holds the right to demurrer, motion to dismiss, or motion for summary judgment to keep the case from going to trial if it seems unlikely that Novofastoky can’t prove the five facts of negligence in court.
Nevertheless, it is personal injury cases like this that are the guardian angels that forces corporation to either choose to invest their money in improving the well-being of their customers or to bleed profits in settlement payouts.
This article was produced by Daniel Black on behalf of Sylvan & Duke Law – A Texas-based Firm Specializing in DWI Defense. Daniel enjoys freelance writing and regularly contributes to a number of sites and blogs.