February 21, 2024

By KEN RITTER | Related Press

LAS VEGAS — A Nevada jury has awarded about $130 million in damages in a lawsuit filed by 5 individuals who suffered liver injury after consuming bottled water marketed by a Las Vegas-based firm earlier than the product was recalled from retailer cabinets in 2021.

The Clark County District Courtroom jury awarded greater than $30 million in compensatory damages to the plaintiffs together with Myles Hunwardsen, a Henderson man who underwent a liver transplant at age 29. The jury levied one other $100 million in punitive damages.

The decision reached Tuesday was the second large-sum award in a negligence and product legal responsibility case involving AffinityLifestyles.com Inc. and its Actual Water model, which was offered in distinctive boxy blue bottles as premium handled “alkalized” consuming water with wholesome detoxifying properties.

In October, a state court docket jury awarded greater than $228 million in damages to a number of plaintiffs together with relations of a 69-year-old girl who died and a 7-month-old boy who was hospitalized. Each had been recognized with extreme liver failure.

“We wish to ship a message to meals and beverage producers that they need to be dedicated to high quality assurance,” Will Kemp, a lawyer who represented plaintiffs in each trials, mentioned Thursday.

Kemp mentioned a number of extra negligence and product legal responsibility circumstances are pending in opposition to the corporate, together with one scheduled to start in Might stemming from liver injury diagnoses of six youngsters who ranged in age from 7 months to 11 years outdated on the time.

Affinitylifestyles.com was headed by Brent Jones, who served as a Republican state Meeting member from 2016 to 2018. Kemp mentioned Jones has declared chapter and moved out of the state. Phone calls to Jones on Thursday rang busy and an e mail request for remark was not answered.

Different defendants within the case reached confidential settlements earlier than trial, together with Entire Meals Market and Costco Wholesale, which offered the water, and testing meter firms Hanna Devices and Milwaukee Devices. Horrible Herbst, a comfort retailer chain, reached a settlement throughout the trial.

At trial, jurors had been informed that assessments discovered Actual Water contained hydrazine, a chemical utilized in rocket gas which will have been launched throughout therapy earlier than bottling.

Actual Water lawyer Joel Odou argued that the corporate was unintentionally negligent, not reckless, the Las Vegas Assessment-Journal reported. He mentioned the corporate didn’t know hydrazine was within the water and didn’t know to check for it.

The water the corporate used was from the Las Vegas-area public provide, which primarily comes from the Lake Mead reservoir behind Hoover Dam on the Colorado River.

The Southern Nevada Water Authority, the area’s predominant public provider, screens and assessments for 166 completely different attainable contaminants, spokesman Bronson Mack mentioned Thursday. Hydrazine isn’t amongst them.

Mack famous that the water authority was not a defendant within the lawsuits and mentioned the world’s municipal water provide meets or surpasses all federal Protected Ingesting Water Act requirements.

Actual Water was offered for at the very least eight years, primarily in Central and Southern California, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Utah. It was additionally promoted on social media and offered on-line.

The U.S. Meals and Drug Administration and the Las Vegas-based Clark County Well being District issued public warnings starting in March 2021 to not drink or use the product, and ordered it pulled from retailer cabinets.