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Suit Blames Las Vegas Man's Death On Bodybuilding Supplement

Nov 30, 2002 | AP The family of a 28-year-old Las Vegas man has sued the maker of a bodybuilding supplement, claiming it was to blame for his fatal June heart attack.

In their Clark County District Court lawsuit filed last week, the wife and daughter of Eric Ashment are seeking damages from Hauppauge, N.Y.-based Twinlab Corp. on multiple claims, including product liability, negligence and misrepresentation.

A lawyer for the family blamed Ashment's death on use of an ephedrine-containing nutritional supplement known as"Ripped Fuel."

"There is no other health reason for him to have a heart attack at this age,"attorney Robert Murdock told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

A message left on an answering machine at Twinlab's corporate communications department was not immediately returned Saturday.

Last month, Twinlab announced it would discontinue selling ephedra-containing supplements effective March 31, 2003 and focus instead on non-ephedra products.

Twinlab has launched a line of clinically tested, ephedra-free products under its leading national brands, including Ripped Fuel.

Ephedra is an herbal stimulant that has been banned by the National Football League.

Ashment, who worked as a butcher at a grocery store, began a new exercise regimen earlier this year.

"He was starting a weight-lifting program, trying to build body mass,"Murdock said.

Ashment consumed Ripped Fuel in the days and weeks before his death and bought it over the counter at a variety of Las Vegas-area stores, the lawyer said.

Ashment was not abusing the product, and an autopsy determined the cause of death was heart failure, he added.

"I hope the lawsuit accomplishes just compensation for my clients, but it also should serve to help take this product off the market,"Murdock said.

The Ephedra Education Council, a group funded by supplement makers, insists that ephedra dietary supplements are safe and effective for weight loss when used as directed.

But doctors claim ephedra is responsible for as many as 100 deaths since the mid-1990s. Ephedra remains available in about 200 supplements used for weight loss, building muscle and boosting energy.

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