A lawsuit was filed in Nevada and a jury has granted approximately $130 million in compensation to five individuals who experienced liver damage from consuming bottled water sold by a Las Vegas company. The product was later recalled from retailers in 2021.
The jury at Clark County District Court granted over $30 million in compensatory damages to the plaintiffs, which included Myles Hunwardsen, a 29-year-old man from Henderson who received a liver transplant. The jury also imposed an additional $100 million in punitive damages.
On Tuesday, the decision made was the second time a significant amount of money was awarded in a case involving AffinityLifestyles.com Inc. and their Real Water product. The brand was known for being sold in unique square blue bottles as a high-quality, treated drinking water with alkaline properties and detoxifying benefits.
In October, a jury in a state court granted over $228 million in compensation to multiple plaintiffs, which included family members of a 69-year-old woman who passed away and a 7-month-old boy who was hospitalized. Both individuals had been diagnosed with serious liver failure.
Will Kemp, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs in both trials, stated on Thursday that a message should be conveyed to food and beverage producers emphasizing the importance of their dedication to quality assurance.
Kemp stated that there are multiple additional cases against the company for negligence and product liability, with one set to start in May. This case involves six children, ages 7 months to 11 years, who were diagnosed with liver damage.
Brent Jones, former Republican state Assembly member from 2016 to 2018, was in charge of Affinitylifestyles.com. According to Kemp, Jones has gone bankrupt and relocated out of the state. Attempts to contact Jones on Thursday were unsuccessful, as his phone was busy and he did not respond to an email request for comment.
Prior to the trial, additional defendants involved in the case, such as Whole Foods Market and Costco Wholesale who were responsible for selling the water, as well as testing meter companies Hanna Instruments and Milwaukee Instruments, came to undisclosed agreements. Terrible Herbst, a chain of convenience stores, also reached a settlement during the trial.
During the trial, the jury was informed that Real Water was found to contain hydrazine, a substance often used in rocket fuel, possibly added during the bottling process after treatment.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, lawyer Joel Odou representing Real Water claimed that the company’s actions were not done with intent to harm, but rather due to negligence. He also stated that the company was unaware of the presence of hydrazine in their water and did not have knowledge of how to test for it.
The company utilized water from the public supply in the Las Vegas area, primarily sourced from the Lake Mead reservoir located behind the Hoover Dam on the Colorado River.
According to spokesperson Bronson Mack, the primary public supplier for the Southern Nevada region, the Southern Nevada Water Authority, conducts regular monitoring and testing for 166 potential contaminants. However, hydrazine is not included in these tests.
Mack observed that the water authority was not being sued and stated that the community’s municipal water source meets or exceeds the requirements of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
Real Water was distributed for a minimum of eight years, mainly throughout Central and Southern California, as well as in Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Utah. It was also advertised on social media and available for purchase online.
The FDA and the Clark County Health District in Las Vegas alerted the public in March 2021 to avoid consuming or using the product, and mandated its removal from retail locations.