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S.F. city attorney, Monster in legal fight over energy drinks

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera is lashing back at Monster Beverage Corp. with his own lawsuit a week after being sued by the Corona energy drink maker.

The root of the legal barbs: Herrera’s attempts to curb caffeine content in Monster products and his efforts to limit the company’s marketing overtures to children.

On Monday, Herrera’s office filed a complaint in San Francisco Superior Court and also accused Monster in a statement of pitching highly caffeinated drinks to minors as young as 6 years old.

Herrera accused the company of flouting scientific findings that the elevated blood pressure, brain seizures and severe cardiac arrest linked to such products can cause “significant morbidity in adolescents.”

The lawsuit comes amid a “months-long investigation” into Monster’s marketing and sales practices, according to Herrera, who also said he had been “working with Monster in good faith to negotiate voluntary changes” when the company unexpectedly took the issue to court.

On April 29, Monster sued Herrera in federal court in Riverside, accusing him of singling out the company and threatening to block it from selling its drinks in their current formulation.

Monster on Monday reiterated concerns voiced in its complaint that Herrera is attempting to supersede the Food and Drug Administration’s regulatory authority. The company also accused him of being “motivated by publicity rather than science.”

Herrera returned the jab, referring to Monster’s litigation strategy as “forum shopping and a bid to win the race to the courthouse.”

“As the industry’s worst offender, Monster Energy should reform its irresponsible and illegal marketing practices before they’re forced to by regulators or courts,” he said in a statement.

Monster said in its own statement that Herrera’s claims “are demonstrably false” and that it intends “to vigorously defend against this action.”

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