Last December, 14-year-old Maryland resident Anais Fournier died of "cardiac arrythmia due to caffeine toxicity" after drinking two 24-ounce cans of Monster Energy Drink in one 24-hour period. Her family blames Monster and is suing the company for damages. While preparing for the suit, Fournier's mother filed a Freedom of Information Act Request with the FDA to see whether Monster Energy Drink had been tied to any other deaths in recent years.
Fournier's mother discovered that it had. Five times.
The New York Times notes that because the reports do not specify whether drugs or alcohol were factors in any of the other four deaths, they don't exactly prove that Monster Energy Drink is lethal. But they suggest, at the very least, a damning correlation.
The FDA is investigating the deaths further to see whether they might be able to find more than that, according to the AP.
Fournier and the FDA are hardly the first ones to raise the idea that energy drinks might be dangerous. The caffeinated beverages have been attacked by critics for years. New York health officials recently issued Monster itself a subpoena to try to uncover more information about the ingredients in the soft drinks.
But so far, the negative attention has failed to translate into decreased sales. A Nielsen report last week indicated that U.S. sales of energy drinks in September 2012 were 16.3 percent higher than they were a year before. Monster performed even better, with sales growing 17.8 percent year over year.
Investors, however, seem to think that this report could be the straw that breaks Monster's back. The company's stock price plummeted more than 14 percent in the few hours after it came to light.