A mother whose child suffered liver damage from toxic chemicals in a bottled water brand has called the situation a “nightmare.”

On Friday, a Las Vegas jury awarded eight plaintiffs—three adults and five children—$3 billion in punitive damages for physical and mental trauma from former bottled water manufacturer Real Water. The plaintiffs were also awarded roughly $98 million in compensatory damages.

The lawsuit alleged that the brand’s alkaline water contained a toxic chemical known as hydrazine that led to liver damage, including anticipated permanent damage to the children whose ages range from 7 months to 5 years.


Arika Carrier’s 5-year-old daughter, Hera, was one of the victims and was hospitalized with acute liver failure. During the recent trial, Carrier was asked by legal counsel about how she felt knowing that the bottled water led to her daughter’s condition.

“It’s a parent’s worst nightmare,” Carrier said on the stand, according to video shared with Newsweek. “If you’re a parent or a grandparent, you’re helpless. You want to protect ’em and you can’t because you don’t know what’s going on.”

Carrier told CBS News in 2021, around the time that state and federal agencies homed in on Real Water for their manufacturing practices, that Hera got sick but her 2-year-old, Finn, did not. Hera expressed issues with her stomach, which led to not being able to hold down food and later violent illness.

According to Will Kemp, attorney for lead plaintiffs Christopher and Emely Wren, Hera and the other four child plaintiffs were flown to a children’s hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, in fall 2020 for potential liver transplants.

“It’s absolutely like going into shock, you know, thinking that your 5-year-old might need a transplant,” Carrier told CBS News three years ago.

On the stand, Carrier spoke through tears that nobody at the hospital ever told her if the situation would turn out well. She called the experience “horrible.”

“The blood draws are excruciating, horrible. This kid has probably been pricked 60 times. They were monitoring her blood, so every two to three hours they had to come in and pull blood. This kid had so much anxiety every time the door would swing open.

“She was worried and she was scared. The problem was, the veins were collapsing….She’s absolutely traumatized by getting bloodwork done. It’s become a permanent scar for her.”

In March 2021, the FDA in collaboration with the Southern Nevada Health District announced an investigation following multiple complaints affiliated with statewide cases of acute non-viral hepatitis directly associated with Real Water and its products. The company issued a temporary recall of its own volition.

But a federal complaint filed on May 19, 2021, at the FDA’s request alleged that Real Water and its parent company, AffinityLifestyles.com Inc., along with company officers Brent A. Jones and his son, Blain K. Jones, “violated the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by distributing adulterated and misbranded bottled water.”

The complaint alleged that FDA inspections found “significant deviations from preventative control requirements intended to control the risk of hazards in food” that led to multiple regulatory violations in the companies’ manufacturing processes.

Emely and Christopher Brian Wren, along with their 2-year-old son, were negatively impacted by drinking the water. Christopher and their son required hospitalization, per the lawsuit, while Emely suffered bouts of extreme nausea and fatigue.

The Wrens’ lawsuit “probably motivated the recall,” Kemp said.


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