No, this does not a commentary on a lawsuit regarding a nutritional health claim against Red Bull. Instead it is about a lawsuit filed by D.C. United striker Charlie Davies against a D.C. bar, the Shadow Room, and Red Bull alleging that the two are liable under D.C.'s dram shop law for over serving a patron who went on to severely injure Davies and kill a passenger in his vehicle. The suit against Das Enterprises (which owns the bar) and Red Bull North America is pending in D.C. Superior Court. The driver at issue in the case, Maria Espinoza, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. The suit alleges that Red Bull hosted an event at the D.C. bar at which the bar continued to serve Espinoza despite her visible intoxication. Davies claims that in addition to his physical and medical damages, Red Bull and the bar should be liable for damages due to his loss of the opportunity to play in the 2010 World Cup games in South Africa.
Davies' suit against Red Bull faces some problems. Proving social host liability, as opposed to holding a licensed establishment liable, can be tricky and varies by state. D.C. explicitly does not recognize social host liability on its own, although the case law is murky. In addition to the difficulty in tying the claims to Red Bull, Davies claimed damages related to his playing at the World Cup are speculative at best (my sixteen-year old son's opinion of his ability to score goals notwithstanding). Finally, Davies faces some comparative fault himself given he was breaking team curfew at the time of the accident.
This is a sad, high-profile incident and that alone may drive the outcome far more than the strength of the legal claims. As is often true in the hospitality industry, the media exposure is sometimes a far bigger concern than the legal costs themselves.