The lawyer representing a man claiming to have found a mouse in a can of energy drink has dismissed claims by the brand owner that it was “virtually impossible” for the rodent to have entered the can at the manufacturing stage.
Speaking to FoodNavigator-USA.com after Californian soft drinks maker Monster Energy issued a statement rebuffing his client’s claims, Bellevue, Washington-based attorney Reed Yurchak said: “Most likely the mouse crawled in during manufacture when, as I understand it, there is no top.
“The can is then filled, sealed air tight, and capped. Because the mouse would be in a sterile, airless environment, the decay process would be delayed. I would also note the mouse was stuck to the bottom of the can, which is kind of a weird detail.
“If my client somehow managed to stuff it through the pop-top he would've had to have done something to adhere it to the bottom of the can, which besides being hard to do, is a very unlikely detail someone trying to fake this would think of.”
Yurchak’s client Vitaliy Sulzhik alleges he found a mouse in a can of Monster Energy last March and is now seeking money damages for physical and emotional pain and
suffering in a lawsuit filed on March 28 this year in King County, Washington.
Monster: 20 days to respond
Monster Energy, which has dismissed the lawsuit as “frivolous” and “unfounded” must respond within 20 days of being served, said Yurchak: “An answer just requires general statements of denial and on what legal theory that denial is based, so I don't anticipate getting any specific information.”
He added: “They haven't provided me with any specifics up until this point, so why would they now?”
But Monster said a scenario in which a rodent could have been introduced during production was “a virtually impossible” given that its cans were turned upside down and injected with high-pressured deionized air before being immediately filled and sealed, “making it virtually impossible for any foreign object to remain in the can”.
Sulzhik is alleging product liability and negligence on the grounds that the can was not fit for human consumption in the purpose for which it was sold, said Yurchak: “My client is seeking money damages for physical and emotional pain and suffering, though we did not specify a dollar amount in the suit.”
He added: “We've waited over a year to reach some resolution with Monster outside of court. I've been more than reasonable with them in giving them time to work with us. We've got nothing but delays, denials and stonewalling. It became apparent they were indifferent towards their customer's needs."
Monster Energy, which is owned by Hansen Natural Corporation, said it was not willing to comment beyond a statement issued to the media on April 4. It has not said whether the negative publicity surrounding the case has impacted sales, adding: "Monster is part of a publicly traded company, and doesn’t/can’t discuss sales activity in between quarters."