Panera Bread, the popular fast-casual restaurant chain, is currently dealing with a second lawsuit alleging wrongful death. The suit is linked to the death of a 46-year-old Florida man, Dennis Brown, who reportedly died after consuming the restaurant’s Charged Lemonade drink. The beverage, marketed as a plant-based and clean energy drink, is said to have led to Brown’s fatal cardiac arrest.
The Charged Lemonade, like many energy drinks, is promoted as a source of a quick energy boost. However, it contains a whopping 390 milligrams of caffeine, just shy of the FDA’s recommended daily limit of 400 milligrams. The lawsuit alleges that Brown had been consuming the drink for six consecutive days as a member of Panera’s Sip Club, a program that allows unlimited drink orders.
Following Brown’s death, Panera issued a statement expressing sympathy for his family but denying any responsibility. The company stated that their internal investigation found no evidence that their product caused Brown’s death. They also noted that the lawsuit was filed by the same law firm that had previously filed a similar claim, which they deemed to be without merit.
However, this is not the first time Panera’s Charged Lemonade has been linked to a death. Earlier, a 21-year-old woman, Sarah Katz, reportedly suffered two cardiac arrests and subsequently died after consuming the beverage. Her family also filed a lawsuit against the restaurant, alleging that Katz was unaware of the high caffeine and sugar content in the drink.
Following Katz’s death, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) expressed sadness and assured that they take reports of illnesses or injuries from regulated products very seriously. The FDA also stated that they consistently monitor FDA-regulated products in the market and take appropriate action, including collaborating with the Federal Trade Commission on marketing claims.
In both cases, the families of Brown and Katz claimed that if they had known about the high caffeine content in the Charged Lemonade, they would have avoided the drink due to their pre-existing health conditions. Brown had high blood pressure, while Katz had a heart condition.
The lawsuits argue that if Panera had accurately advertised the ingredients in the Charged Lemonade, the customers would not have purchased it, and their deaths could have been prevented.