A Nevada jury has awarded about $130 million in damages to patients who suffered extreme liver damage after drinking trendy bottled water laced with toxic chemicals.
Five people suffered excruciating pain and loss of limb control after drinking $2.99 ’alkalized’ Real Water that contained hydrazine, an extremely flammable and cancerous chemical used to make rocket fuel.
Myles Hunwardsen underwent a liver transplant at age 29, while Jazmin Schaffer, Tina Hartshorn, Miriam Brody and Christina Sosa suffered liver failure.
In October, a state court jury also awarded more than $228 million in damages to several plaintiffs, including relatives of a 69-year-old woman who died and a 7-month-old child who was hospitalized. Both were diagnosed with severe liver failure.
The company admitted negligence and said the chemical likely entered the water during the manufacturing process.
He said the water undergoes a seven-stage purification process to remove certain ions, particles and bacteria. It is thought that hydrazine may have been added to the water during treatment before bottling.
Jazmin Schaffer lost function in her hands and began shaking uncontrollably while driving
The product was marketed as premium “alkalized” water with healthy detoxifying properties.
According to the Real Water website, the water passes through a resin bed, a carbon filter, and a UV light disinfection unit, among other things, to remove certain ions, particles, and bacteria.
It is then treated with the company’s E² technology, which stands for Electron Energized, where electrons are added to the water.
The final product is said to contain only two ingredients: purified water and potassium bicarbonate, an alkaline mineral.
It is believed that hydrazine, a chemical used in rocket fuel, may have been added to the water during treatment before bottling.
The water was marketed by Las Vegas-based Real Water before the product was pulled from store shelves in 2021 after a series of illnesses.
The Clark County District Court jury awarded more than $30 million in compensatory damages to plaintiffs, including Myles Hunwardsen, a Henderson man who underwent a liver transplant at age 29.
The jury imposed another $100 million in punitive damages.
The other four plaintiffs each received more than $1 million in damages.
Jazmin Schaffer, 33, started drinking Real Water in October 2020 after her boyfriend had her bottles delivered to her house.
They ordered two or three five-gallon jugs every two weeks. Schaffer said he drank about a gallon a day, but they used the water for everything from cooking to making tea and coffee.
In mid-October, Mrs. Schaffer began to feel unwell. She had pain in her abdomen, she felt “very, very nauseous” and suffered mental confusion and severe fatigue.
He slept more than 12 hours a night and began vomiting several times a day. There was also blood in her vomit.
Mrs. Schaffer went to the emergency room and was told that she was simply dehydrated and should drink more water.
Then one day while driving, he lost function in his hands and began shaking uncontrollably.
“I couldn’t hold the steering wheel,” she told the jury through tears.
She then went to Spring Valley Hospital where she was admitted. Doctors told her she had liver failure and five times the normal amount of liver enzymes.
He was told he might need a liver transplant.
‘It was very scary. ‘I didn’t know what was going on,’ he said.
She was forced to undergo a liver biopsy without any painkillers due to the state of her liver. She was in pain for a month afterward and she said she “hurt to breathe.”
Miriam Brody was 78 years old when she was taken to Henderson Hospital and treated for liver failure.
Tina Hartshorn choked back tears as she gave her testimony.
Miriam Brody started drinking Real Water in November 2018, when she was 78 years old. She bought liter bottles of water at Costco.
She was in a beauty salon when she suddenly felt hot all over her body and her face swelled. Her hands began to tingle and she fainted.
Once he came to, he vomited and had diarrhea. “I felt like I was out of control of my entire body,” she told the jury.
He also had stomach pain and said he had never experienced anything like it.
“It was really scary because I couldn’t understand what was wrong. Especially when you’re a little older you think: this is it.
He continued drinking Real Water, but a few weeks later, he suddenly felt sick again and started shaking, so he called 911.
She was taken to Henderson Hospital where She was treated for liver failure.
In October 2020, Tina Hartshorn ordered five-gallon jugs of Real Water for her home in the northern Las Vegas Valley.
He drank water daily for almost a month before he started to feel unwell.
He started vomiting and suspected he had an ear infection.
“The more water I drank, the worse I got,” he told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
In November, Ms. Hartshorn was admitted to Centennial Hospital, where she remained for nine days, racking up a $100,000 medical bill in the meantime.
He had almost lost the ability to speak and could not keep any food down. The doctors asked if she was diabetic because her insulin was very low, but she told them no.
The verdict reached Tuesday was the second large award in a negligence and product liability case involving AffinityLifestyles.com Inc. and its Real Water brand, which was sold in distinctive square blue bottles as treated “alkalized” drinking water. Top quality with healthy detoxifying properties. .
Alkaline water typically has a pH level of eight or higher, while standard water has a “neutral” pH level of seven.
Some believe that water can reverse signs of aging or even prevent cancer, although there is no scientific evidence to support this, and many experts believe that claims about alkaline water are nothing more than marketing gimmicks.
He Mayo Clinic recommends drinking only normal water.
The Food and Beverage Administration (FDA) warned people not to drink alkaline water.
The most notorious case was that of Myles Hunwardsen (pictured), who had to be flown to hospital for a liver transplant after drinking company water.
Real Water brands itself as alkaline water that can serve as an alternative to tap water, but an FDA complaint alleges that the water was simply tap water mixed with a chemical compound.
“We want to send a message to food and beverage manufacturers that they must commit to quality control,” Will Kemp, an attorney who represented the plaintiffs in both lawsuits, said Thursday.
Kemp said there are several more negligence and products liability cases pending against the company, including one scheduled to begin in May over diagnoses of liver damage in six children who ranged in age from seven months to 11 years at the time.
Affinitylifestyles.com was run by Brent Jones, who served as a Republican member of the state Assembly from 2016 to 2018. Kemp said Jones filed for bankruptcy and moved out of state.
Other defendants in the case reached confidential settlements before trial, including Whole Foods Market and Costco Wholesale, which sold the water, and test meter companies Hanna Instruments and Milwaukee Instruments.
Terrible Herbst, a convenience store chain, settled during the trial.
At trial, jurors were told that tests found that Real Water contained hydrazine, a rocket fuel chemical that may have been put into the water during treatment before bottling.
Real Water’s lawyer, Joel Odou, argued that the company was unintentionally negligent, not reckless, in Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
He said the company didn’t know there was hydrazine in the water and didn’t know how to test for it.
The water the company used came from the Las Vegas area’s public supply, which comes primarily from the Lake Mead Reservoir behind Hoover Dam on the Colorado River.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority, the region’s largest public provider, monitors and tests 166 different possible contaminantsspokesman Bronson Mack said Thursday. Hydrazine is not among them.
Mack noted that the water authority was not sued in the lawsuits and said the area’s municipal water supply meets or exceeds all federal Safe Drinking Water Act standards.
Real Water was sold for at least eight years, primarily in central and southern California, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Utah. It was also promoted on social media and sold online.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Las Vegas-based Clark County Health District issued public warnings starting in March 2021 not to drink or use the product, and ordered it recalled from store shelves.