Drinking Water Recall Results in Child Being Hospitalized

By: David Donovan | Published: Jun 20, 2024

A mother whose child experienced liver harm from poisonous synthetics in a filtered water brand has labeled the circumstance as a “nightmare.”

On Friday, a Las Vegas jury granted eight parties — three adults and five kids — $3 billion in punitive damages for physical and mental injury from former filtered water maker RealWater. The plaintiffs were additionally granted around $98 million in compensatory damages.

Toxic Chemical

The lawsuit claimed that the brand’s alkaline water contained a harmful chemical called hydrazine that could cause liver injury and even cause permanent damage to the children’s livers.

Bottled water standing on a table with a blind in the background

Unsplash user Steve Johnson

Arika Carrier’s 5-year-old girl, Hera, was one of the victims and was hospitalized with intense liver failure. 


Carrier’s Perspective

During the trial, Carrier was asked by legal counsel about how she felt in the knowledge that the filtered water caused her girl’s condition.

Series of bottled waters from above showing the caps

Unsplash user Jonathan Chng

According to a video that was provided to Newsweek, Carrier stated on the stand, “It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. 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.”

Federal Investigation

Carrier told CBS News in 2021 that Hera got sick but her 2-year-old son, Finn, did not, around the time that state and federal agencies started looking into Real Water for their manufacturing methods. 

Bottled water on its side with condensation on the bottle in a pool of water

Unsplash user Serenity Mitchell

Hera communicated issues with her stomach, which made her unable to keep down food and later caused intense illness.

Liver Transplants

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

Human liver taken at autopsy with flash on a steel surface with some blood

Wikimedia Commons user Suseno

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

Witness Stand

Carrier cried on the witness stand when she said that nobody at the hospital ever told her if the situation would turn out ok. She referred to the experience as “horrible.”

Hospital beds in a ward

Unsplash user Adhy Savala

She went on to say: “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.”


Traumatic Experience

“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,” Carrier stated.

Woman leading a baby in a carrier down a hospital hallway

Unsplash user Hush Naidoo Jade Photography

After numerous lawsuits and intervention from local and federal agencies, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Department of Justice (DOJ), Real Water went out of business in 2021.


Real Water

Multiple complaints related to statewide cases of acute non-viral hepatitis directly associated with Real Water and its products prompted the FDA and Southern Nevada Health District to announce an investigation in March 2021. 

Southern Nevada Health District photocall with a crowd posing for a photo

X user SNHDinfo

The company decided to issue a temporary recall on its own in response to the investigation.


FDA Complaint

However, Real Water and its parent company, AffinityLifestyles.com Inc., as well as company officers Brent A. Jones and his son, Blain K. Jones, were accused investigated by the FDA.

Scientist working at a computer on a desk for the FDA

X user US_FDA

Their basis was that they were “violating the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by distributing adulterated and misbranded bottled water” in a federal complaint that was filed on May 19, 2021, at the request of the FDA.


Significant Deviations

According to the complaint, inspections carried out by the FDA uncovered “significant deviations from preventative control requirements intended to control the risk of hazards in food.” 

A plastic water bottle found washed ashore during a beach cleanup on Long Island, NY.

Unsplash user Brian Yurasits

This resulted in numerous regulatory infractions in the manufacturing processes of the company.


Negative Impact

Drinking the water had a negative effect on Emely and Christopher Brian Wren as well as their son, who was two years old at the time. 

A plastic water bottle littered on a beach in Barbados.

Unsplash user Brian Yurasits

Christopher and their child required hospitalization, per the claim, while Emely endured episodes of extreme queasiness and fatigue.


Kemp’s Opinion

The Wrens’ claim “probably motivated the recall,” according to Kemp in relation to the case.

Bottle of water in a bike basket

Unsplash user yu62ballena

“We just hope that it encourages the bottled water industry to test all their products like they should in the first place,” Kemp told Newsweek by telephone on Tuesday.

The case against Real Water has led to increased scrutiny on behalf of the FDA in bottled water products.