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Real Water to pay $3B in lawsuit, jury rules, after liver failure outbreak

Updated June 17, 2024 - 8:38 pm

A Las Vegas jury has awarded $3 billion in punitive damages to eight plaintiffs who sued the Real Water bottled water company, which was tied to an outbreak of liver failures.

Attorney William Kemp, who represented the lead plaintiffs, said the billions in punitive damages represent the most money that has been awarded by a jury in Nevada.

The verdict was delivered Friday, at the end of a two-week trial.

Real Water has been subject to multiple lawsuits after the water, which contained a toxic chemical used in rocket fuel, was tied to an outbreak of liver illness and at least one death.

The company behind Real Water, Affinitylifestyles.com Inc., was based in Las Vegas since 1998 and promoted its product as “the healthiest drinking water available.”

Kemp argued during the trial that the water was marketed as “being good for children,” according to court transcripts.

An attorney for Real Water did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

The plaintiffs from the recent trial consisted of five young children and three adults who suffered from liver failure after consuming the product, marketed as alkalized water. Kemp said the children were all flown to a hospital in Salt Lake City for liver transplants, but they all avoided needing a transplant once they stopped drinking the bottled water. The children ranged in age from 7 months old to 5 years old.

The lead plaintiffs in the case, Emely and Christopher Brian Wren, sued after they and their 2-year-old son suffered health complications from drinking the water, which they had delivered to their home. Both Christopher Brian Wren and his son were hospitalized with signs of liver malfunction, while Emely Wren suffered extreme nausea and fatigue, according to the lawsuit.

On top of the punitive damages, the jury Friday also awarded the plaintiffs about $98 million in compensatory damages, Kemp said.

It is likely that Real Water’s attorneys will argue for a judge to lower the punitive damages awarded by the jury, and Kemp said he expects the verdict to eventually be cut back.

But he still hopes the high amount awarded will motivate bottled water companies to properly test products in the future. During the trial, an expert with the International Bottled Water Association testified that it is not industry standard to automatically test all new bottled water products, Kemp said.

“I think everyone’s hope here is that there’s going to be some change,” Kemp said.

Friday’s verdict marked the third trial that has resulted in substantial damages against Real Water. In February, a jury awarded about $130 million in damages to five people who sued the company, and a jury in October awarded more than $228 million in total damages in a separate case.

Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240.

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