Panera is sued again over highly-caffeinated Charged Lemonade drink

A lawsuit has been filed against Panera Bread after a woman died after she drank some of the "Charged Lemonade." The woman had a heart condition and her parents claim the drink contributed to her death.

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A Rhode Island woman filed suit against Panera Bread, claiming the restaurant chain’s lemonade caused her to have “permanent cardiac injuries.”

Lauren Skerritt, 28, an occupational therapist, said after drinking the lemonade she requires daily medication and has heart problems that have reduced her ability to work, exercise and socialize, according to the complaint.

Skerritt said she had been an athlete with no underlying health conditions who regularly competed in obstacle course races, according to a report from NBC News. Skerritt says now she daily medication.

The complaint says Skerritt drank 2½ Charged Lemonade drinks from a Panera cafe in Greenville, Rhode Island, on April 8 and then began to experience palpitations.

The next day, the suit says, Skerritt went to the emergency room, where tests showed that she had atrial fibrillation — an irregular heartbeat.

Skerritt has since had “recurrent episodes of rapid heartbeat that occur suddenly and without pattern,” according to the suit, which was filed in Delaware, where Panera is incorporated.

“Lauren continues to experience supraventricular tachycardia with associated shortness of breath, palpitations, brain fog, difficulty thinking and concentrating, body shakes, and weakness,” the suit says, noting that Skerritt and her husband have put plans to start a family on hold because “she will have a high-risk pregnancy and may have complications during the pregnancy.”

Two other lawsuits – both involving deaths that claimants say were linked to the drink – have been filed against the company.

According to NBC, Panera did not immediately comment on Tuesday’s lawsuit.

Charged Lemonade is “Plant-based and Clean with as much caffeine as our Dark Roast coffee,” according to the company. One large Charged Lemonade, a 30-oz drink, contains 390 milligrams of caffeine, or the equivalent of four cups of coffee or three-and-a-half 12-oz cans of Red Bull.

In one suit, the parents of a 21-year-old said their daughter died because the drink was not properly labeled.

According to the suit filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Sarah Katz had a heart condition called long QT syndrome type 1 and avoided energy drinks at the recommendation of her doctors.

Katz had a “Charged Lemonade,” at the restaurant and went into cardiac arrest while at a restaurant with friends, the suit claims. She died after being transported to the hospital and suffering a second arrest, according to the lawsuit.

“We were very saddened to learn this morning about the tragic passing of Sarah Katz, and our hearts go out to her family,” Panera told CNN in a statement. “At Panera, we strongly believe in transparency around our ingredients. We will work quickly to thoroughly investigate this matter.”

The suit claims Panera failed to appropriately warn consumers about the ingredients of the drink or label it an “energy drink,” or one that contains a large amount of caffeine, NBC reported.

Katz knew she had a heart issue but did not know the amount of caffeine that was in the Charged Lemonade drink because she was not warned, the suit claims.

A second lawsuit was filed in Florida against Panera Bread after a man’s family claimed he died after drinking Charged Lemonade.

The suit claims Dennis Brown, 46, went into cardiac arrest when he left the restaurant after drinking a lemonade with his meal.

According to the lawsuit, Brown consumed the lemonade with his dinner at a Panera Bread restaurant and died while he was walking home.

The suit said Brown was a regular customer at the restaurant, and had been drinking the lemonade with his meals over six days. Brown was a member of Panera’s Unlimited Sip Club, a perk that allows you to order unlimited drinks.

Brown’s family said in the suit that he was a passionate advocate for community safety and inclusion for people with disabilities.

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