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Monster Beverage says no link between caffeine and teen girl's death

Monster Energy Drink_Reuters_Mar 4 2013.jpg

Two cans of Monster energy drink.REUTERS/Sam Mircovich

Monster Beverage Corp, facing concerns over the safety of its energy drinks, said on Monday that it has found no evidence that the death of a 14-year-old girl was caused by her drinking two Monster Energy drinks.

Monster was sued last year by the family of Maryland teenager Anais Fournier, who died after suffering from cardiac arrest her family says was related to her drinking two Monster Energy drinks on consecutive days. They sued Monster for failing to warn about the alleged dangers of the drink.

Following the suit, Monster hired a group of doctors to study whether the caffeine from the drinks contributed to her death.

The company said on Monday that its doctors found "no medical, scientific or factual evidence to support the Maryland Medical Examiner's report of 'caffeine toxicity,'" said Daniel Callahan, a lawyer for Monster. He said no blood tests were ever done to test her blood's caffeine levels.

Kevin Goldberg, a lawyer for the Fourniers, told Reuters there were other symptoms of caffeine toxicity, though he declined to elaborate.

"We have our experts and they have their experts," Goldberg said, adding that it was "not appropriate ... to litigate the case in the media."

The lawsuit said Fournier died from "cardiac arrhythmia due to caffeine toxicity" that complicated an existing heart valve condition related to a disorder called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.

Monster's doctors said the most likely cause of Fournier's death was myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle. They said that would not have been exacerbated by caffeine.

Energy drinks are caffeinated beverages with aggressive-sounding names like Monster, Red Bull, Rockstar, AMP and Full Throttle. They are often associated with active or extreme sports, which makes them popular with young men.

In addition to the Fournier lawsuit, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in October that it was investigating reports of five deaths that might have been associated with Monster's namesake drink.

Monster shares were down 97 cents, or 1.9 percent at $49.69 on the Nasdaq.