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Coroner Links Woman's Death to Excessive Coca Cola Consumption

February 20, 2013

There are many types of products that can cause serious injury or wrongful death, but sometimes these claims are met by many with a confused expression and considerable skepticism. The recent death of a woman attributed to Coca-Cola addiction might be one such claim.

After all, the Coca-Cola formula was first invented in 1886 and has been widely distributed worldwide for over a century. However, skeptics of the claim that excessive consumption of Coca-Cola caused the death of a woman should be aware that this is not the conclusion of a New Zealand coroner not a conspiracy aficionado.

Admittedly, Natasha Harris, who died from a cardiac arrhythmia, had health habits like smoking and going for extended periods without eating that put her at risk for suffering adverse medical conditions. Despite these health issues, a recent report by ABC News indicated that the coroner identified the high levels of sugar and caffeine associated with drinking over two and a half gallons of Coca Cola a day as a "substantial factor" in causing her death. The coroner went on to indicate that if not for Ms. Harris's high levels of Coca Cola consumption she would probably not have died as early or in the same manner.

The New Zealand coroner's conclusions are bolstered by Dr. Christopher Holstege, Chief of Medical Toxicology, at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville. Dr. Holstege commented on the case and emphasized that virtually any substance in large enough doses can have toxic effects. The amount of Coke consumed by Ms. Harris would have entailed ingesting 2.2 pounds of sugar every day along with almost a gram of caffeine.

Ms. Harris' death was foreshadowed by signs that she was being adversely impacted by her favorite soft drink. Her partner told reporters that Ms. Harris would get the shakes, headaches and become moody when she did not get her Coca Cola fix. She also had incidents where her heart raced, and her liver had become swollen, which were both linked to her excessive Coke consumption. Media reports also indicated that all of her teeth had rotted and had to be removed a number of years prior to her death.

While Coke cans currently do not have any warning label that inform consumers regarding the amount of the soft drink that it is safe to consume in a day, this issue has recently arisen in the context of adverse health effects allegedly linked to energy drinks. Like excessive quantities of Coke, energy drinks can have extremely high levels of sugar and caffeine.

Generally, manufacturers of products have a duty to warn consumers of known risks associated with their products. This duty extends to foreseeable misuse of the product, which theoretically could include warnings regarding how much of the beverage can be safely consumed per day as well as the potential adverse health effects of exceeding these limits.

Most energy drinks that are the subject of litigation like Monster® energy drinks and 5-Hour Energy Drink® already carry some form of warning, but Coke products do not contain similar warnings to consumers. The FDA has launched an investigation into the safety associated with the 5-Hour Energy Drink®, and Monster Beverage Company is currently facing lawsuits by those who allege that they have suffered serious health hazards or lost a loved one because of the adverse effects associated with consumption of energy drinks.

If you believe that you or someone you love has been injured by an unreasonably dangerous or defective product, our Atlanta product defect attorneys do not hesitate to take on large corporations whose products cause serious injury to consumers. Montlick and Associates is available to provide effective legal representation to clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.

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Category: Personal Injury

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All information provided by our blogs is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult a Montlick attorney for details about your unique situation.