Mother of Dead Teen Sues Four Loko

By Dirk Hanson 05/20/11

The beer's manufacturers are accused of deliberately marketing a product that “increases the potential for alcohol-related harm.”

College Kids go Loko for Four Loko.
Photo via worldwrapfederation

For the second time, beverage manufacturer Four Loko has been sued in connection with the death of a young drinker of the company’s 12% alcohol beverage, often called “blackout in a can.” The mother of a teen who drank two cans of Four Loko before a concert, and then wandered into traffic on a suburban Washington D. C. highway, where he was killed by a car, has charged that Four Loko deliberately marketed a product which “increases the potential for alcohol-related harm.”  While Four Loko was forced to remove the caffeine from its beverage due to health concerns, Karla Rupp’s son Bo, who died last September, was drinking the original formula. The Chicago Sun Times notes that the parents of 20-year old Florida State University student filed a wrongful death suit after their son shot himself during a Four Loko drinking bout last year. Phusion Products, maker of Four Loko, which was profiled recently by The Fix,  said the company had a “vested interest—both personal and professional—in assuring the continued responsible consumption of our products.” The company statement also said that "this accident, and others like it, speak to the serious, societal concerns regarding the misuse of alcohol—alcohol abuse and underage drinking are problems we would all like to see discussed and solved.” 

Karla Rupp sees it a bit differently: "While I don’t approve of underage drinking of any kind, I believe if Bo had celebrated with more conventional drinks, he would have passed out and ended up with a bad hangover.”

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]