Family Blames Four Loko For Teen’s Death, Files Lawsuit

BALTIMORE (WJZ)—The drink Four Loko kills. That’s the claim in a lawsuit filed against the drink’s manufacturer. Lawyers for the family of a Virginia teen blame the company for their son’s death.

Mary Bubala has more.

“If I can save one child,” said Karla Rupp. “Two children make a difference. That’s what’s important.”

Karla Rupp talks about her mission after the death of her son – 15-year-old Bo Rupp. She says her son died after drinking Four Loko.

“The Four Loko effect is eternal for our son,” she said.

The teen  bought it from a Manassas, Va. convenience store in September of last year. He drank it while tailgating at a concert.

Rupp’s lawyers say drinking one 23.5 ounce can of the original version of Four Loko is the same as having five-12 ounce beers and at least two cups of coffee.

Bo Rupp drank two cans of Four Loko, so that’s 10 cans of beer and four cups of coffee.

“They call it blackout in a can or liquid cocaine,”said John Cooney, Rupp’s attorney. “The point is to get absolutely looped.”

Rupp became disoriented. His mom came to pick him up. He ran from her car then fell or laid down in the road. A car hit him. He died the next day.

The Rupp family filed a lawsuit against the manufacturer on Wednesday. The suit claims the drink is deceptively marketed to teens; its colorful packaging can appear to be just an energy drink or tea.

Under pressure from the FDA, the manufacturer re-formulated the drink, removing the caffeine last year. Thousands of the cans of the original version were destroyed. Rupp says that’s not enough.

“My hope is that these drinks that are sold in single serving cans are pulled off shelves everywhere,” she said.

The manufacturer of Four Loko released a statement saying it is saddened by the tragedy but that the drink is intended only for people 21 and older.

Last year, a young woman from Easton, Md. was killed in a car crash. Her friends say she had been drinking Four Loko.

More from Mary Bubala
  • chalkie

    Sorry for the loss of a love one. But stop trying to blame everyone else foryour son dying. That company didn’t hold you child down and say drink. Your kid went out and got it somehow, and drank it on thier own. Second of all how did a 15 year old by it? The only person you could blame is the person who bought it or sold it for him.


      Sounds like the Gene Pool Lifeguard stepped in and did the world a favor; killed off another stupid kid. Learn to control your stupid little brats and maybe they won’t get their puny little brains smeared across the street.

      Also, don’t blame the cashiers. They’re not really paid enough to give a hoot what happens to your spawn.

    • David Parks

      True that.DVP..

    • cHARMcity

      right… if anything they should be sueing the store that sold it to a minor…. smh… it says clearly on the can… must be 21 years or older to consume alcohol….

      • cHARMcity

        but either way you look at it… I feel terribly sorry for your loss…. i pay close attention to my 3 boys.. thats why they are still under our roofs… because they are kids… they need no freedom until they can take care of themselves..

    • Jonathan Francis

      amen…..there ridiculous…and money hungry

  • Samantha

    Ok, so if I drink 10 beers and 4 cups of coffee, I should go and sue the companies. Who is at fault is the person who bought the Four Loko for someone underage or the employee for selling to an underage kid.

  • Bullfrog

    How terribly tragic to have to endure the death of your son at such an early age because of pure greed. I hope you win your lawsuit and put this company out of business. It seems to me that this company”s purpose is to get our young adults, whether too young to drink or old enough to drink (drunk). There are more than enough drunks driving around any given time of day/night and now this company wants to add to the melee. You are 100% correct about this company targeting the young, remember the saying young and dumb, well they are and this company is using their stupid actions to fatten their wallets. May your son watch and protect your family as the angel he is in heaven,

    • Jude

      Are you for real? I mean, marketing can be what it is… But kids still SHOULDN’T BE ABLE TO BUY IT… It’s illegal. They should not be suing the company. Plenty of things are marketed towards plenty of groups – but yet people need to exercise SELF-CONTROL… And in this case, ADULTS need to be responsible.

    • ElPollodelaMuerte

      Good troll, 6/10 since you got a bite. Next time express more outrage – “Think of the children!!!!”

    • Amy

      that is just ignorant……if anything his PARENTS and i use that word loosely, should have been more aware of what their son was doing. if that was my 15 son at a concert with his friends you better bet that i would be calling him to check up on him…if he didn’t like it too bad

    • mike

      TAKING THESE OFF THE SHELF WILL NOT MAKE YOUR CHILDREN ANY SMARTER. Why was a 15 year old tailgating? what about the other 9000 different beverages stores offer? better yet lets not let anyone sell anything anymore, then we will all be safe…idiots

    • Loni

      He was not FORCED to drink it! He broke the law, it’s a sad story but not the companies fault!

  • ShadowDancer

    We definitely live in an era where no matter how poor a parent you are, you can sue someone else for the consequences. Who checked out the people he went to the concert with to see if someone responsible would be there? Why was a 15 yr old out somewhere going to a concert with no responsible adult along to say “You shouldbn’t drink that?” Why did the convenience store sell an alcoholic beverage to a minor? If anyone should be sued, it is the convenience store, not the company that makes the product. The company is NOT responsible for the stores that carry it distributing it to minors. Parents need to start being parents and responsibility needs to start THERE first. Stop being buddies and enablers and be parents or things like this happen.

    • Juanita McKean

      Agreed 100%

  • Doug

    The problem is little or no education of drinking and alcohol.
    These drinks should be legal,but with a warning.
    These kids can get the same ” high ” by mixing energy drinks and hard booze.

    At 15,things can go quickly to OD,with just about anything.
    Sorry for your loss.

  • BLK Social Worker Praying

    no its the convenience store fault that loko was sold to a 15 year old. When its usually sold in bars to those at the legal age of drinking. Its his parents responsiblity also not fault. when her son got in her car drunk at the age of 15 she should have knocked him sober. His death is sad it really is..but who do you blame at this point because he was only 15 and should not have even been sold the drink

    • Squaregrouper

      Exactly what I was going to type. Four Loko should be suing the parents for allowing their 15yo to drink their product while underage.

  • Daisy

    This is a very sad, horrible story. I wouldn’t wish this on any parent, but he died while committing a crime. .. consuming Alcohol under aged. So what if the drink comes in brightly colored cans, does that mean its marketed to underage kids? Not necessarily, adults like bright colors and like to think they are going to be drinking a hip new drink. Every time I hear a sorry like this, my first question is “where were the parents?”

  • Cathy

    II agree,it is the persona falult for buing the drink for hi, I am sorry for your loss but suing the company that makes this drink is wrong,the trouble with this counrty people can sue for anything,no one forced this down the kids throat,this all goes back yrs ago when that lady sued for hot coffee when she put the cup between her leggs and got burnt.Why was he out without suoervision,maybe other people will oearn from this

  • chalkie

    And if you really read this story the kid got out of the car and ran over and laid down or passed out in the road and got run over. The liquor didn’t kill the kid, the car that hit him did. Why didn’t the mother chase down her kid and get him out of the road. Wow really great parenting there isn’t it!!! If the kid was so drunk, why didn’t she take her son to the emergency room and have them give the kid something to help get the alcohol out of the kids system faster. This mother is looking to blame everyone but herself, she could have prevented her son’s death but did nothing. I think she should be charged for her son’s death, she apparently did nothing at all after he was in her presents. The courts will throw this case out if the company has a good team of lawyers, then they should sue her. For all we know she could have been the one to by the alcohol for her son, apparently she knows what store it came from and also knows exactly what it looked like. And she knows what he was drink and how many. The only way she knows all this is if someone told her or she bought it. To many parents want to be thier kids friends and not the kids parents. I have seen alot of parents buy thier underage kids alcohol, because the parents want to be cool in front of thier kids or thier kids friends. There was a parent a couple months ago in the news having parties for her kids friends, supplying the alcohol so she could have sex with the boys if you remember.

    • finally

      yes finally someone actual read the CAR killed the kid not the drink…Why aren’t the parents suing the Driver of the car or the person who let him get out the car and laid down to get hit… Parents stop blaming everyone else for your mistakes.

      ( Im a single mom so i can talk)

  • mary

    I cannot believe the bad parenting that goes on today. Tailgating starts atleast four hours before an event. so did the parents think nothing of their child leaving for a concert in the ..probably..afternoon? what was a 15 yearold doing with people who allow underage drinking?? i’m not going to say i didnt when i was underage…but i certainly wasn’t 15. when i was 15 i was hanging out at the mall or movies, or a friends house. Not being stupid and irresponsible, and most likely showing. This is a shame because the parents want someone else to blame for their own neglect. there should be a case against the parents, not four lokos.

  • Can't Fix Stupid

    Unless someone held the kid down and poured Four Loko down his throat, I can’t see how the family can blame anyone but the kid. Your kid drank this beverage. Suing a company for a couple million won’t bring back your child.

    I agree with Mary, just bad parenting. I have no sympathy for people who die from drug overdoses or alcohol consumption. It was free will.

    • dariatokay

      can’t fix stupid if you’re stupid yourself.

  • Chris

    You can’t blame it on the drink. First of all he’s 15 years old, Why the hell is he drinking away? I think the parents need to take a look at themselves first because you should be keeping close tab on your children. Im sorry for there lost but I hope they lose this lawsuit. I honestly like the drink.

  • Robert Long

    I love how america has turned to. “Sue the person who made the thing your family member or friend that died of some type of cause with the product” This is what they call weeding out the idiot’s. It’s because of kid’s and people like his family who cased this country to turn into nothing but a padded room to protect idiot’s. And just because someone does something dumb with something and hurt’s them selves we all have to suffer. A good example is fire works.. Because some idiot’s decides to see what time it is right after lighting an M-80. He mess’s it up for everyone.

    Back in the day if you where dumb and or you did not deserve to have kid’s you lost them. And yea most the time it was tragic.. But thats called natural selection. Selection of the fittest. Thats the issue with human’s. We have nothing to hunt us or stop the idiot’s blood line from continuing. Watch the movie idiocracy… It will show you what the world is turning into pretty much.

    And yea that is sad that boy died because he was wasted and didnt know how to handle his drink and or mix. But its the parent’s and any friend’s or family around him. And the biggest is the person who sold it to him.

    It’s not the person who made it that caused your son to buy it drink it and then go crazy and run into a street and get hit. If you are trying to say that they sold him poison… Then how come no one else but a few idiot’s have died because of stupid thing’s they did under it’s influence. Look at beer and how many dumb thing’s people have done. Did these people forget that there is beer in it? I have drunk 2 of those drinks before and i had a really great buzz. And yup i handled it fine because i was 26 and i knew how to handle my drink and i was of drinking age.

    Jeeze man. These kid’s adult’s family’s and friend’s who keep going after this place are so……….. um.. Slow i will say…. Man… They should take advantage of the jeff foxworthy method. And all idiot’s get a sign. And if you have a sign your not aloud to do pretty much anything at all. And your treated like your super special until you prove otherwise. It just makes me sooooooooooo mad man!.

    Anything can hurt you. Did you know if you drink too much water you can get drunk type effects and die also? Anything can be taken overboard. He took it over board. He knew what he was drinking. Its a strong drink and he knew. he just figured he was a big man. Drink’s dont pull out gun’s and force them to drink. Guns do kill people. People do. It’s all the same thing. It comes down to responsibility! And thats why you have to be 21 to drink because if you are under 21 you are 90% or more then lkely irresponsible and cant handle its effects. The fact that is was 15 one was enough.

    So someone should sue those parent’s and lock them away and take any kid’s they have left!. Nuff Said!

    • GrammarPatrol

      Speaking of signs, where is yours? Looks like you need to go back to grammar school and learn how to write before you start accusing people of being idiots.

      • JQP

        Patrol the media not the. Wee arent heer to right novels or nooz storees, weer making comments on the fly with tuch pads, smart fones, etc.

        If yoo doughnt like it, that iz just too bad. Wee doughnt kare.

        (please tell me you can read sarcasm)

      • sheesh

        oops sorry WAS trying to say

      • sheesh

        seriously this is not highschool and grammar patrol you need to sit down somewhere.. We got the gist of what he where trying to say..

  • liz

    Lack of parenting…. Get real people

  • Jazerelle

    The article really isn’t clear how he got the drink. Maybe some of the people he was partying with were old enough to buy it. The fact is he was underage and drinking and the drink did not kill him that car did, And there is already tons of information out there about the dangers of drinking. Seems to me the parents are at fault for not teaching their son not to drink until he is old enough. Even then drinking can be dangerous.

  • Qwerty

    As a Canadian I have always found it strange that booze is sold everywhere in the States. Now Canada is a hard-drinking country, that is for sure, but alcohol is only sold in liquor stores which are off limits to minors without an adult accompanying them. Occasionally it is suggested that booze be sold in regular stores, but the vast majority of folks don’t want that level of availability. Also, depending on local laws, booze sales generally stop at a certain time of day (11:00 pm in my hometown). That doesn’t include bars & restaurants, just liquor stores. Perhaps some of these types of regulations might be helpful. Although I will say again that we Canadians LOVE our booze and generally speaking we drink like fish.

  • Doug

    Whatever happened to the good old days of “Mad Dog 20/20 ?????


    Sounds to me like it was the four wheeled vehicle that killed him not the four loco.

  • Josh

    What a horrible world it is today! Back in the past, people used to choose what drinks they purchased and consumed. Nowadays, drinks are forcing themselves into people’s hands, forcing the people to buy them, and to top things off — forcing themselves down people’s throats. I hope justice is made against these companies knowingly selling products that force people to buy and consume fatal amounts!

  • Amy

    the four loko didn’t kill him..the car that hit him did. newsflash**** if anyone drinks too much alcohol it can kill you! And what was the mom doing? sitting in the car watching her son lay in the road??? I have a son and if he tried to get out the car i would do anything to keep him in there….people blaming others for their mistakes!

  • Jenn Lover

    Instead of going after company, maby you need to go after the store that sold a 15 yo alcohol. if he bought it himself, and wasn’t given it by someone else, then the store needs to loose there license. the company that makes it isn’t responsible that your 15 yo got there product, it is intended for only legal age adults.

    • jimbob

      how about instead of going after someone or something, how about doing some grieving and healing and coming to the understanding that your son is in a better place and you will be with him one day and then maybe start teaching young people the dangers of underage drinking and laying down in the middle of a busy street/road, that is what I would do. Sorry for your loss.

  • Kristie

    I have noticed a lot of hateful comments directed at people that you do not even begin to know. I would recommend counseling for your anger issues before you offer advice to another.

  • frivoulous_suits

    The mother should sue herself. She is the parent, and the child is her responsibility, not the beverage company’s responsibility.

  • T

    Either some one over 21, or with a fake ID, CHOSE to buy this for them. Then this kid CHOSE to drink it. What if it were Bud or Coors? Would the parents be suing them as well?

    This was a terrible chain of events that led to a horrible accident. EVERYONE in each link of this chain has culpability, so why just focus on the drink company? Why not sue the purchaser? The store that sold it? The venue that allowed under age drinking in their lot? The parent who didn’t take her child to the ER? The car manufacturer that didn’t have automatic door locks? The person driving the car who hit this child?

    I’m so sorry this happened. As a mom, I understand. But this law suit just doesn’t seem logical.

  • lee newkirk

    Are you serious???? They are suing the company when they need to be suing the store clerk for selling to a minor. Then they need to look at the fact that their son who is 15 why in the world was he drinking in the first place… people always blame others when the person who is responsible is the parents and the son also the store clerk… sorry for the lost but the fingers need to be pointed elsewhere

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