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Second Fatality Linked to Panera’s Charged Lemonade Sparks Legal Action

Panera Faces Lawsuit Over Caffeinated Beverage Following Tragic Death

By Dolores Quintana

Panera Bread is under legal scrutiny again as a second death is linked to its highly caffeinated Charged Lemonade, according to a lawsuit filed on Monday as reported by NBC News. Dennis Brown from Fleming Island, Florida, experienced a fatal cardiac arrest on October 9 after consuming three Charged Lemonades from a local Panera. The lawsuit follows a separate case involving the death of Sarah Katz in September 2022, who also drank the same beverage. Both lawsuits allege that Panera failed to adequately warn consumers about the drink’s ingredients, including the stimulant guarana extract. Brown normally did not drink energy drinks because of his high blood pressure. 

Panera’s Charged Lemonade, promoted as “Plant-based and Clean with as much caffeine as our Dark Roast coffee,” contains 390 milligrams of caffeine in a large, 30-fluid-ounce cup—more than any size of Panera’s dark roast coffee. The legal complaints highlight that this surpasses the caffeine content of standard cans of Red Bull and Monster energy drinks combined, along with an equivalent of nearly 30 teaspoons of sugar. While the FDA suggests healthy adults can safely consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, the lawsuits emphasize the drink’s potential risks.

The recent wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Dennis Brown’s family raises concerns about whether Brown was aware of the drink’s caffeine and stimulant content. The beverage, available in self-serve dispensers, was reportedly offered alongside non-caffeinated and less caffeinated drinks without clear warnings. Brown’s cause of death was stated as cardiac arrest due to hypertensive disease. 

Panera responded to the recent lawsuit by expressing sympathy for Dennis Brown’s family and defended the safety of their products according to NBC News. They stated that their investigation led them to believe that Brown’s passing was not caused by their product. Panera views the lawsuit, filed by the same law firm as the previous claim, as equally without merit. Despite the legal challenges, the company maintains confidence in the safety of its offerings.

After the initial lawsuit, Panera implemented more detailed disclosures across its establishments and website, cautioning customers to consume Charged Lemonade in moderation, especially for children, individuals sensitive to caffeine, or pregnant or nursing women. However, when you go to the website with a link for a Charged Lemonade product, you are offered a chance to join the company’s “Sip Club” which offers unlimited beverages for a special price, as a monthly subscription.

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