The parents of John “Bo” Donald Rupp, III, a 15 year old boy, have instituted a suit against Phusion Projects, maker of Four Loko, for their son’s September 26, 2010 death.
The minor who died had acquired the drink illegally, as Four Loko was not sold legally to minors. The unfortunate kid had consumed one bottle of Four Loko, which contains the equivalent of about four beers and the caffeine in about half a cup of coffee.
Unfortunately, he evidently couldn’t handle drinking. Even more unfortunately, his parents had failed to teach him not to steal alcohol and failed to supervise his conduct. However, if this kid got drunk and wandered into traffic, how on earth can you blame the people who made the alcoholic drink he had somehow acquired illegally and chugged down? Would this mean that the makers of scotch, vodka, and rum should be liable for problems experienced by high school students who steal liquor, steal a car, drive drunk, and get hurt in a crash?
After the drunken adolescent was driven home from a party by his parents, the paranoid and disoriented teen leaped out of the car and ran off into the night. At some point, Rupp collapsed, fell, or sat down on a busy highway and was hit by a car. It sounds as if Rupp was pretty unstable. In any case, he certainly should not have been drinking Four Loko or any other alcoholic drink.
But it boggles the mind to try to imagine how a company that makes and sells alcoholic drinks to adults could be held responsible when a child illicitly acquires and consumes their product. Of course, the very modest amount of caffeine in Rupp’s drink should not be an issue in the case, and would not be, except for the spectre of caffeine paranoia.