When Panera introduced its Charged Lemonade in 2022, it described the flavored beverage as “the ultimate energy drink guaranteed to charge up your day” and claimed it was made with “clean caffeine.” The drink quickly went viral, with customers warning each other about the jittery and anxious feelings they’d experienced after drinking it. Which tracks: According to the company’s website, the large size contains 390 milligrams of caffeine — the equivalent of about four or five cups of coffee. Now, two wrongful-death lawsuits have accused the company of misleading customers in its marketing and description of the beverage, with fatal results.
The latest complaint, obtained by the New York Times, comes from the family of 46-year-old Dennis Brown, who they say suffered a fatal cardiac event in October after drinking a Charged Lemonade and two refills at a Panera Bread in Florida. The lawsuit claims that Panera “knew or should have known” that the lemonade could injure children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people sensitive to caffeine. According to the suit, Brown had high blood pressure, a chromosomal deficiency disorder, a developmental delay, and a mild intellectual disability, and he didn’t drink energy drinks because of his high blood pressure, per NBC. Brown’s family accused Panera of serving the Charged Lemonade “side by side” with drinks without caffeine, and without any warnings or indication that it was an energy drink.
The Browns’ is the second such accusation leveled against the company. In October, the parents of 21-year-old Sarah Katz also sued the company, saying their daughter — who had a heart condition — drank the lemonade in September 2022 thinking it had a safe amount of caffeine in it, but died hours after consuming it. That suit claimed that Panera “failed to properly warn” customers about the potential dangers of the lemonade.
After the Katzes’ lawsuit, Panera told NBC News that it “enhanced our existing caffeine disclosure” on its website and app and in stores. In a statement to the Times regarding Brown’s death, Panera stood by the safety of its products, saying, “Based on our investigation we believe his unfortunate passing was not caused by one of the company’s products. We view this lawsuit, which was filed by the same law firm as a previous claim, to be equally without merit.”
Tariro Mzezewa , 2023-12-06 21:46:49