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Panera faces scrutiny following the third known incident of heart issues related to the consumption of the caffeinated lemonade.

Panera Bread sued a third time over highly caffeinated Charged Lemonade drink

Lauren Skerritt is the third consumer to sue Panera, after she drank two and a half Charged Lemonades and began experiencing heart problems

After Panera Bread’s highly caffeinated Charged Lemonade drink was blamed for two fatal cardiac arrest incidents in Oct. and Dec. 2023, respectively, the JAB Holding-owned company is now facing a third lawsuit and more scrutiny. Lauren Skerritt, 28, a Rhode Island occupational therapist, is suing Panera for experiencing ongoing health problems after she drank two and a half Charged Lemonade drinks last April, as first reported by NBC News.

According to the lawsuit filed on Tuesday, Skerritt — a competitive athlete with allegedly no underlying health conditions — started experiencing heart palpitations immediately after drinking the caffeinated beverages on April 8, 2023. She went to the emergency room and was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat, which can lead to a stroke, and since then, has had heart problems that have required her to take medicine and allegedly have impacted her ability to work, exercise, and socialize.

“Lauren continues to experience supraventricular tachycardia with associated shortness of breath, palpitations, brain fog, difficulty thinking and concentrating, body shakes, and weakness,” the lawsuit reads, adding that Skerritt and her husband have postponed plans to start a family because her heart problems would cause her to “have a high-risk pregnancy and…complications during the pregnancy.”

Panera’s caffeinated lemonade beverages were released last spring around the same time as the expansion of the Unlimited Sip Club subscription program. Originally called Lemonade Chargers, this beverage was advertised as an alternative to coffee, and comes in flavors like Fuji apple cranberry and mango yuzu. A large portion of the Charged Lemonade mango flavor contains 390 mg of caffeine – or nearly 3.5 12-ounce Red Bull energy drinks — which is just shy of the 400 mg maximum dosage of caffeine that you can safely drink in a day, according to the FDA.

This is now the third lawsuit Panera is facing following two deaths of other customers who drank Charged Lemonade beverages. In October, the family of Sarah Katz filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the bakery-café chain after their daughter went into cardiac arrest and died last year after drinking the Charged Lemonade. Katz had an underlying health condition which can cause heart arrythmia, so she had typically avoided caffeinated beverages, but based on the “unclear labeling” of the Charged Lemonade drink, she had not known it contained caffeine.

Then in December, the family of Dennis Brown of Fleming Island, Fla., filed a lawsuit against Panera after Brown, 46, died after drinking the Charged Lemonade drinks over a six-day period. He had consumed three of the beverages on Oct. 9, the day he died from cardiac arrest on his way home. Brown had lived with ADHD, a developmental delay, a chromosomal disorder, and high blood pressure, and because of the latter, did not drink caffeinated beverages. The lawsuit claims that there was no warning signage about the caffeine content in the beverages, a claim that has been repeated in all three lawsuits against Panera.

Since the first lawsuit was filed, Panera updated all in-store disclosures about the high caffeine levels of the drink, which now state in bold letters, “Contains Caffeine,” with a warning that states consumers should “use in moderation” and that the drink is not recommended for “children, people sensitive to caffeine, pregnant or nursing women.” All three lawsuits recalled incidents from before signage was updated.

The bakery-café chain has maintained its innocence after both the first two lawsuits were filed, saying that both lawsuits were without merit and “Panera stands firmly by the safety of our products.

Panera did not respond to request for comment on the third lawsuit in time for publication.

Contact Joanna at [email protected]


TAGS: Fast Casual
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