Parents of a 21-year-old Ivy League student with a heart condition filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Panera Bread. They allege the student, Katz, passed away after drinking the restaurant chain’s highly-caffeinated drinks known as Charged Lemonade. Katz was diagnosed with a heart disease at age 5 and took daily medication. She followed medical advice to abstain from consuming energy drinks and beverages with high caffeine levels. However, after buying a Charged Lemonade at a Panera location in Philadelphia, Katz went into cardiac arrest while she was with her friends. Later she had a second cardiac arrest episode at a hospital, whereafter she was ultimately pronounced dead.
The Drink in Question
On its website, Panera says the drinks are available in three flavors and come with 260 mg of caffeine in a 20 fl. oz. serving. Panera says that the caffeine in the drinks comes from caffeine, green coffee extract and guarana extract. The caffeine level in the large-size Charged Lemonades exceeds a 12 oz. can of Red Bull and a 16 oz. can of Monster combined.
Plaintiff’s allege that the defendants did not market, advertise, and sell Panera Charged Lemonade in the store as an energy drink. Despite her heart condition, Katz was permitted to have reasonable amounts of caffeine like those found in soda, but not energy drinks. The lawsuit calls the Panera beverage a dangerous energy drink and alleges the company knew that it could injure children and people sensitive to caffeine.
An Updated Warning
Panera Bread updated the consumer warning for its Charged Lemonade products after the lawsuit. The new warning reads that the drinks are naturally flavored, plant-based, and have about as much caffeine as their dark roast coffee. The warning further urges consumers to use in moderation, noting that you should not consume the product if you have a heart condition. This story is a warning to always be wary of consuming products even if they have seemingly adequate warnings as to the danger of their products.