The family of a Northeast Ohio high school senior who died of a caffeine overdose last year filed a wrongful death lawsuit on Friday against several companies including Amazon.com Inc, which shipped the supplement.
The state court lawsuit contends Amazon and six apparently related Arizona-based companies violated Ohio safety laws by manufacturing, distributing or selling powdered caffeine.
Amazon declined to comment on the lawsuit. The other named defendants could not be reached immediately for comment.
Logan Stiner, 18, died in May of a cardiac arrhythmia and seizure due to acute caffeine toxicity shortly before he was set to graduate from high school, Lorain County Coroner Dr. Stephen Evans said. Bags of powdered caffeine were found in his room.
The lawsuit filed by Stiner's father says the companies promoted, advertized, offered for sale and sold Hard Rhino pure caffeine powder on Amazon. It also names as a defendant a classmate who bought the powder and gave some to Stiner.
The lawsuit said Hard Rhino should have labeled the caffeine powder as an over-the-counter stimulant and not as a "dietary supplement" and inadequately warned of the difficulty in differentiating a safe dose from a lethal one.
The US Food and Drug Administration in December warned of the dangers of consuming powdered pure caffeine, which can have the rough equivalent of 25 cups of coffee in a single teaspoon.
The Stiner family is asking for US$25,000 in damages and has started a petition asking the FDA to ban the powder. The FDA regulates all forms of caffeine except pure powder form.