Phusion Projects of Chicago, which makes Four Loko, issued a statement Thursday saying, “We are extremely sadded by this tragedy and our thoughts are with the Rupp family.” They noted that the drink was intended only for people over the age of 21, that they have since reformulated the drink to remove both caffeine and other controversial ingredients and that they would vigorously defend themselves in the litigation.
The lawsuit was filed in Chicago, and says that one can of Four Loko had the alcohol equivalent of five to six cans of beer. The suit alleges that Rupp and friends bought Four Loko at a Race Way gas station in Manassas, then went to a Sept. 25 concert at Jiffy Lube Live, where Rupp was ejected for being intoxicated. He allegedly drank two cans, but the caffeine initially masked the intoxication effects, the suit alleges.
On the way home from the concert, Rupp was paranoid and disoriented, then jumped out of the car in Centreville and fled from his mother, the suit states. Police said that Rupp was sitting on Pleasant Valley Road when he was struck by a Toyota FJ Cruiser. He died a day later.
Rupp’s mother, Karla Rupp, has spoken out publicly recently, warning of the dangers of Four Loko. Fairfax County Police Sgt. Bill Fulton told the Centre View, “kids don’t understand that — when they drink 23 ounces of an energy drink — they’re drinking the equivalent of a bottle of wine in five minutes.”