LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A woman in her 60s died from liver failure last year in what lawyers believe is the first death connected to Real Water, a lawsuit filed Wednesday claims.
Real Water sold alkaline water, which has a lesser acidity, through a home delivery service and in bottles sold in stores. The water was marketed as “the healthiest drinking water available today,” according to the lawsuit.
The woman, identified in court documents as Kathleen Ryerson, received Real Water via home delivery and was hospitalized with severe liver failure in September 2020. She was hospitalized a second time in October 2020 and died on Nov. 11.
The lawsuit also includes a 7-month-old boy who was sent to a Salt Lake City hospital and five adults who experienced liver failure.
At least 11 cases of acute non-viral hepatitis are linked to Real Water, according to the Southern Nevada Health District (SNHD). Last month, the health district said it was investigating 50 additional reports. Five cases involved children.
Each of those investigations are based on people who self-identified to the health district, were reported by a health care provider or because their Real Water subscription was canceled due to health concerns.
According to the lawsuit, the concentrate used in Real Water is made up of calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium.
“The composition of the concentrate used by Real Water is a closely guarded secret,” the lawsuit reads. “While [the developer] claims that the concentrate is solely potassium and magnesium, no independent testing has confirmed such claim.”
The lawsuit also focuses on the meter employees used to test the water’s properties. The lawsuit named Casey Aiken, a former Real Water worker, who, according to the lawsuit, worked as a strip club promoter before being hired, “did not know… the meter should be cleaned every month. Aiken never cleaned the ORP meter despite being the lead technician from August 2020 to March 2021.” The lawsuit also said Aiken did not calibrate the meter every month.
In addition to Ryerson’s death, the lawsuit alleges Real Water caused several miscarriages, dozens of hospitalizations and one case of emergency brain surgery.
The lawsuit also alleges there were prior incidents involving water that made people sick, including in 2018 and 2019. It also reveals Aiken’s dog became sick in October 2020 after he gave it Real Water.
“All these terrible things are happening and people are left in the dark and then they learn what it is,” attorney Eric Pepperman, who is representing several clients in cases against Real Water, told the I-Team. “Now, we’re able to say, ‘Oh, OK. This explains it. This is what happened to me.’”
In March, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended consumers, restaurants and retailers discontinue drinking, cooking with, selling or serving the alkaline water.
Acute non-viral hepatitis is an inflammation of the liver that can be caused by exposure to toxins, autoimmune disease or drinking too much alcohol.
The Las Vegas-based company issued a statement in March, saying it was notified of a potential problem with its water on March 16 and that the problem dated back to November 2020.
In a video posted in March, the company’s majority owner and founder apologized to customers. The company has not released a statement since.