A landmark legal case in Nevada has concluded with a significant compensation awarded to individuals who suffered liver damage after consuming bottled water from a Las Vegas-based company. The jury awarded approximately $130 million in damages to five plaintiffs, underscoring the gravity of the health consequences linked to the consumption of Real Water. This verdict serves as a crucial message to food and beverage manufacturers regarding the paramount importance of quality assurance. The legal battle, marked by multiple trials and settlements involving various defendants, sheds light on the responsibilities companies bear in ensuring the safety of their products and the accountability they must face for negligence.
A significant legal verdict has been reached in Nevada, where a jury has awarded approximately $130 million in damages to five individuals who suffered liver damage due to consuming bottled water marketed by a Las Vegas-based company. This lawsuit stems from events that transpired before the product’s recall in 2021.
The Clark County District Court jury delivered its decision, granting over $30 million in compensatory damages to the plaintiffs, including Myles Hunwardsen, who required a liver transplant at the young age of 29. Additionally, the jury imposed punitive damages amounting to $100 million.
This verdict marks the second substantial award in a series of negligence and product liability cases involving AffinityLifestyles.com Inc. and its Real Water brand. Real Water, packaged in distinctive boxy blue bottles and marketed as premium treated “alkalized” drinking water with purported detoxifying properties, faced scrutiny due to severe health consequences linked to its consumption.
Previously, in October, another state court jury awarded over $228 million in damages to multiple plaintiffs, including the families of a 69-year-old woman who tragically passed away and a 7-month-old infant who required hospitalization, both due to severe liver failure.
The plaintiffs’ legal representative, Will Kemp, emphasized the importance of holding food and beverage manufacturers accountable for ensuring quality assurance. He expressed a desire to send a clear message through these legal proceedings.
Kemp further disclosed that several additional negligence and product liability cases against AffinityLifestyles.com are pending, with one scheduled to commence in May. This case involves six children who were diagnosed with liver damage, ranging in age from 7 months to 11 years old at the time of diagnosis.
AffinityLifestyles.com, formerly led by Brent Jones, a former Republican state Assembly member, has faced financial challenges, with Jones declaring bankruptcy and relocating out of state. Attempts to reach Jones for comment were unsuccessful.
Various other defendants involved in the case reached confidential settlements before trial, including major retailers such as Whole Foods Market and Costco Wholesale, which sold the implicated water product. Additionally, testing meter companies Hanna Instruments and Milwaukee Instruments settled out of court. Terrible Herbst, a convenience store chain, also reached a settlement during the trial proceedings.
During the trial, evidence revealed that Real Water contained hydrazine, a chemical used in rocket fuel, which may have been introduced during the treatment process prior to bottling. Real Water’s legal counsel, Joel Odou, contended that the company’s negligence was unintentional rather than reckless, asserting that they were unaware of hydrazine’s presence and did not conduct tests to detect it.
The source water used by the company originated from the public water supply in the Las Vegas area, primarily sourced from the Lake Mead reservoir behind Hoover Dam on the Colorado River. Notably, the Southern Nevada Water Authority, responsible for the region’s public water supply, conducts rigorous monitoring and testing for 166 potential contaminants, though hydrazine is not included in these assessments.
Bronson Mack, spokesperson for the Southern Nevada Water Authority, clarified that the authority was not implicated in the lawsuits and affirmed that the municipal water supply consistently meets or exceeds federal Safe Drinking Water Act standards.
Real Water was distributed for at least eight years, primarily in Central and Southern California, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Utah, with additional sales occurring through online platforms and social media promotion.
In response to emerging health concerns, both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Clark County Health District based in Las Vegas issued public warnings starting in March 2021, advising against the consumption or use of Real Water. Subsequently, regulatory authorities ordered the product’s removal from store shelves, marking a pivotal moment in addressing the public health risks associated with this bottled water product.
Overall, the legal proceedings surrounding the liver damage caused by Real Water have culminated in a landmark decision, emphasizing the imperative for accountability and redress in cases of product-related harm. The substantial compensation awarded to the plaintiffs reflects the severity of the injuries suffered and serves as a deterrent to negligence in the food and beverage industry. As companies face increasing scrutiny over product safety, this case sets a precedent for prioritizing consumer welfare and enforcing rigorous quality assurance protocols. Moving forward, it is imperative for manufacturers to uphold the highest standards of safety and transparency, ensuring that products entering the market pose no threat to public health.