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Monster Beverage Lawsuit Against San Francisco Thrown Out

Dec. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Monster Beverage Corp.’s lawsuit challenging San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s attempt to regulate the caffeine content of its products and change its marketing was thrown out of federal court.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips in Riverside, California, dismissed the case because Herrera has a suit against Monster that involves important state interests, and U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulation of Monster’s products don’t clearly preempt the actions, according to her order.

Herrera said the dismissal clears the way for his lawsuit, pending in state court in San Francisco, to proceed. He claims Monster’s marketing targets children while its products have known risks to health and safety.

“Monster Energy’s federal suit was a meritless ploy to stop our state consumer-protection case, and I’m grateful to the court for issuing an unequivocal dismissal,” Herrera said.

Monster denies marketing to children. It says the ingredients in its drinks are safe and its products are clearly labeled. The Corona, California-based company claims Herrera is violating its right to free speech and his claims are preempted by FDA regulations.

Mike Sitrick, a spokesman for Monster, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail message seeking comment on the ruling.

The FDA said last year it is investigating whether energy drinks may cause harm when consumed in excess or by young people or those in with heart conditions. The agency may move to regulate the drinks’ use or labeling.

The case is Monster Beverage Corp. v. Herrera, 13-cv-00786, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California (Riverside).

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in federal court in San Francisco at kgullo@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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