LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A jury in Clark County has awarded more than $228 million in damages to several plaintiffs who sued a now-defunct Las Vegas-based bottled water company after its product was linked to liver illnesses, the 8 News Now Investigators have confirmed.
One of those plaintiffs, Jeremey Botiz, was drinking Real Water all the time. He used it to make his oatmeal and tea, he boiled his rice with it and he used it to stay hydrated.
He even had it delivered to his house in bulk.
“We live in the desert and I need to drink liquid,” Botiz said.
But unbeknownst to Botiz, the water – Real Water – was making him sick. He became nauseous with abdominal pain, he was hallucinating, confused, and delirious. He went to several hospitals and finally one told Botiz his liver was failing.
“They told me I was going to die,” Botiz said. A result of a liver test that showed his levels many thousands of times higher than the norm.
“They told me these are dying numbers and if you leave [the hospital], you could die,” Botiz said.
Botiz left the hospital anyway, armed with a prescription for the steroid Prednisone, and went home. He was choking down those pills with the very same water that made him sick.
“We hope that we sent a message,” Will Kemp, attorney for Botiz and a handful of other plaintiffs, said.
Kemp said there are 57 more plaintiffs expecting to take their cases against Real Water to trial. In all, Kemp has 17 trials in the pipeline.
In the current lawsuit, plaintiffs alleged faulty testing meters produced by the companies contributed to toxic chemicals found in the water.
Joel Odou, an attorney for Real Water, told jurors the company tested the water but did not know to test for hydrazine — a toxic chemical used in rocket fuel.
In May 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned consumers, restaurants, and retailers not to drink, cook with, sell, or serve Real Water.
The product was sold at stores throughout the Southwest including Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and the Los Angeles area, and also was delivered to homes in large bottles before being pulled off shelves in March 2021.
A hundred people in and around the Las Vegas valley were sick. One person died. Several had or needed liver transplants, including several young children.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CONTRIBUTED TO THIS REPORT