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Lawsuit ties woman’s death to Real Water, outbreak of liver illness

Updated May 12, 2021 - 6:16 pm

Attorneys have linked a Nevada woman’s death to an outbreak of liver illness that health officials tied to a local bottled water company, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

The latest complaint filed against Las Vegas-based Real Water points to a “series of outbreaks” throughout the last six years.

An avid Real Water drinker for years, 69-year-old Kathleen Ryerson died Nov. 11 from aspirated pneumonia and liver failure, her sister, Judy Ryerson, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal in March.

The Ryersons were among 11 plaintiffs named in the suit, filed Wednesday in Clark County District Court by the Kemp Jones law firm. The suit also included the family of a 7-month old boy who was hospitalized with severe liver failure in September.

Attorney Will Kemp said he has filed several complaints on behalf of at least 45 people who were hospitalized after drinking the water and expects more in the future.

In late March, another firm filed a class-action lawsuit against the company.

Kathleen Ryerson drank upward of 64 ounces of Real Water a day, her sister said days after the product was pulled from stores.

In October, continuing to consume Real Water, Kathleen Ryerson struggled to get out of bed or walk, her sister said.

In the past two months, dozens of people who reported being hospitalized with liver failure after drinking Real Water have sued, as the Food and Drug Administration and Southern Nevada Health District investigate.

The FDA, which has recalled the product, said on its website that it is aware that the water is still being offered for sale through online retailers.

According to the suit filed Wednesday, the company “continues to do business in the State of Nevada, and sold toxic water products on equipment used to make such products to Nevada residents and violated Nevada laws.”

Health officials have said they were first alerted to five cases of acute nonviral hepatitis, which causes liver failure, in infants and children from November.

Last month, the Southern Nevada Health District said it had linked at least six additional cases of severe liver disease to Real Water.

The complaint filed Wednesday also references Real Water’s lead technician at a Henderson plant, Casey Aiken, as an employee who made a “superbad” batch of water in October and knew little about the tool used to measure contaminants in the product.

According to the suit, the company had been alerted to illness related to the water.

“Real Water failed at any time to inform customers that the ‘superbad’ October 2020 batch was toxic,” the suit stated. “Instead of telling customers the truth, Real Water posted the test results from Western Environment Testing Laboratory on its website as part of a scheme to cover-up the fact that Real Water had just made and distributed the ‘superbad’ October 2020 water batch.”

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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