Reporting Mary Bubala
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.