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Family files wrongful death suit against maker of Four Loko for death of son

The family of a teenage boy who consumed Four Loko before being fatally struck by a car has filed a wrongful death suit against Phusion Projects the maker of the beverage. Weeks after the death of the teenager Phusion Projects removed caffeine and other stimulants from Four Loko at the behest of the FDA. Despite the beverage company's move, the family's attorney says the alcoholic drink remains targeted at underage consumers.

The 15-year-old boy obtained two cans of Four Loko from a convenience store in Washington D.C. Thereafter he attended a tailgate party where the alcoholic beverages were consumed before attending a concert. At the concert the teenager's behavior became "erratic and agitated" and concert staffers contacted the teenager's mother to pick him up.

The mother picked up her son and as the pair reached their neighborhood, the teenager got out of the vehicle and took off. The 15-year-old then either fell or sat down on a highway where he was hit by a car. The next day the teenager passed away.

The family claims Four Loko caused the teenager to become disoriented before he was struck by the vehicle, and the wrongful death suit claims Phusion Projects was "careless and negligent" in the creation of an alcoholic beverage that "desensitizes users to the symptoms of intoxication and increases the potential for alcohol-related harm." Phusion Projects responded to the suit by explaining its products no longer contain stimulants and by saying its products are intended for people over the age of 21.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Maker of Four Loko hit with wrongful death suit," Ellen Gabler, 5/19/11

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