Nevada juries award $360M in bottled water liver damage lawsuits

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Real Water bottled water for delivery
In June 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a permanent injunction against Real Water from ever preparing, processing, or selling water again. Photo Credit: Courtesy of U.S. Food and Drug Administration

Juries have awarded a combined $360 million in damages in relation to two lawsuits filed against Real Water brand drinking water, a Nevada-based company that plaintiffs accused of causing liver damage from its alkalized bottled water labelled as being “infused with negative ions”. 

AffinityLifestyles.com Inc. and its Real Water brand were sold as drinking water with healthy detoxifying properties for some eight years; however, the juries heard that tests found Real Water contained hydrazine, a chemical used in rocket fuel and which is known to cause liver damage. It remains inconclusive how the chemical entered the product, which was recalled from store shelves in 2021. 

In October, a state court jury awarded more than $228 million in damages to relatives of a 69-year-old woman who died and a 7-month-old boy who was hospitalized. Both had severe liver failure. 

The latest round of damages came in mid-February, as a Clark County District Court jury awarded more than $30 million in damages to a Nevada man, who was the lead plaintiff that underwent a liver transplant at age 29. The jury levied another $100 million for punitive damages. 

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While other settlements were made prior to the recent cases, numerous other lawsuits remain pending against the bottled water company.   

The juries heard that Real Water Inc.’s commercial product — also known as Re²al Water — was drawn from the Las Vegas-area municipal water supply, particularly the Lake Mead reservoir. The Southern Nevada Water Authority has not been named as a defendant in the lawsuits.   

According to Real Water’s former website, its water passed through a resin bed, charcoal filter and UV-light sanitizing unit to remove certain ions, particles and bacteria.  

In June 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a permanent injunction against Real Water from ever preparing, processing, or selling water again. At the same time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration alleged that “the products in fact consisted of municipal tap water that the defendants processed with various chemicals in violation of current good manufacturing practices, relevant food safety standards and hazard prevention measures.” 

Additionally, the FDA found multiple regulatory violations in the product manufacturing processes, “including significant deviations from preventative control requirements intended to control the risk of hazards in food, as well as multiple failures to follow current good manufacturing practice requirements for water bottling facilities.” 

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