Bottled Water Company Hit With $130M Verdict Over Liver Illnesses, Watch Full Trial via CVN

Posted by David Siegel on Feb 8, 2024 12:42:44 PM

Kemp closings

CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Will Kemp delivering his closing argument

Las Vegas, NV - A Nevada state court jury slammed a bottled water company with a $130 million verdict on Tuesday in a lawsuit brought by five plaintiffs claiming toxic chemicals in an “alkalized water” beverage caused their serious liver illnesses.

The jury saddled Real Water with $30 million in compensatory damages and roughly $100 million in punitive damages. Real Water admitted liability for the plaintiffs’ illnesses, with the question of whether or not to award punitive damages being one of the key points of dispute in the trial.

Real Water faces dozens of lawsuits stemming from their alkalized water, which was pulled from shelves by regulators in 2021 after discovering the drinks were contaminated with hydrazine, a toxic chemical used in rocket fuel. Tuesday’s verdict comes after another Las Vegas jury awarded $228 million in damages last year in a similar case.

The full trial was webcast and recorded gavel-to-gavel by CVN, and is included among hundreds of other trials with a monthly or annual no-contract subscription to CVN's online trial video library. 

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Besides Real Water, the lawsuit originally included Whole Foods Market, Costco Wholesale and the testing meter companies Hanna Instruments and Milwaukee Instruments as defendants, but they reached settlements prior to the start of trial. Distributor Terrible Herbst, where plaintiff Myles Hundwardsen supposedly bought the Real Water that made him sick, reached a settlement mid-trial.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs accused Real Water of sloppy safety practices and a “complete and deliberate disregard for every safety flag.” They urged an award of punitive damages to send a signal to other companies.

However Real Water’s attorneys insisted that while the company was negligent, they did not act “recklessly” because they hadn’t considered hyradzine was in their product.

Hunwardsen received $14 million in compensatory damages and suffered the most serious illness of the plaintiffs. All experienced acute liver failure, but Hunwardsen’s was severe enough to require an eventual liver transplant.

Attorney Will Kemp of Kemp Jones, who represented the plaintiffs in both trials, represents 63 additional plaintiffs in related cases with the next Real Water trial set for May.

The plaintiffs were also represented by Theodore of Parker Nelson & Associates.

Real Water was represented by Joel Odou of Wood Smith Henning Berman.

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Topics: Nevada