By Howard Cohen

Miami Herald

The battle of the energy drinks — Monster versus Bang — could play out soon in a California courtroom.

Monster Energy Corp., based in Delaware but with a principal place of business in Corona, California, filed a lawsuit last week in a California district court against Vital Pharmaceuticals, also known as VPX Sports, which is based in Weston, Florida.

The suit, which also names VPX owner Jack Owoc, alleges that VPX Sports, which markets the energy drink Bang, uses deceptive advertising and marketing.

Bang “is nothing short of a miracle drink that delivers benefits and cures that have evaded scientists for decades,” according to the suit, filed by Marc Miles, a California lawyer with Shook, Hardy & Bacon. The firm also has an office in Miami.

The suit lists four complaints centering on violation of California laws concerning unfair competition, false advertising and trade libel that “disparages” energy drink companies like Monster. VPX markets Bang through 15 store distributors in California and also nationwide via vitamin stores like GNC and convenience stores like 7-Eleven.

“Monster is likely to suffer, has suffered, and will continue to suffer damages to its business and goodwill, the loss of sales and profits it would have made but for (VPX’s) wrongful acts, and increased advertising and marketing costs, all in an amount to be proven at trial,” the suit reads.

Owoc released a lengthy response to Monster’s accusations.

“Consumers choose Bang because it’s more effective, tastes better, and doesn’t contain harmful amounts of sugar and highly suspect ingredients like D-glucuronolactone contained in Monster,” Owoc wrote.

“Research has proven that Monster causes disturbances in heartbeat. Research has also proven that caffeine is safe alone but combined with sugar can be deadly. Bang contains zero sugar. Monster’s flagship energy drink (Green M) contains a massive health-robbing 54 grams of sugar per can. High sugar beverages like Monster’s flagship energy drink have been implicated for their role in contributing to the obesity epidemic, diabetes, Syndrome X, heart attack, metabolic dysregulation and a myriad of other health problems,” Owoc said.

Bang has 300 milligrams of caffeine per 16-ounce can. Monster has 240 milligrams in its 24-ounce can, the equivalent of seven cans of Coca-Cola. Up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day is considered generally safe for adults by the Mayo Clinic but cautions that children and adolescents should not consume that much caffeine daily.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends adolescents ages 12 to 18 not exceed 100 milligrams of caffeine a day, about the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee, the Miami Herald reported in 2017. The organization also recommended that adolescents should not consume energy drinks.

Owoc, Miles says, “touts himself as VPX’s ‘chief scientific officer,’” but “his qualifications seem to be based exclusively on his previous stint as a high school science teacher.”