Accused Panera Bread Lemonade Linked to Second Death in Lawsuit – News21USA

A Florida man died after drinking three servings of a high-caffeine beverage from Panera Bread, according to a lawsuit filed against the company on Monday. It is the second lawsuit linking the Charged Lemonade drink to a death.

Dennis Brown, 46, died in October after suffering a “cardiac event” while walking home from a Panera Bread in Fleming Island, Florida, according to the wrongful death lawsuit, which was filed by the mother, sister and Mr. Brown’s brother in Delaware Superior Court.

It is the second lawsuit filed against Panera Bread over its Charged Lemonade, which has more caffeine in its large size than a 12-ounce Red Bull and a 16-ounce Monster Energy Drink combined.

The lawsuit said the company “knew or should have known” that the drink could harm children, pregnant and lactating women, and people sensitive to caffeine.

After the initial lawsuit, Panera told News21USA News that it had “enhanced our existing caffeine disclosure” on its website and app, and in its restaurants.

In a statement Tuesday, Panera said it “strongly stands by the safety of our products.”

“Panera expresses our deepest condolences to Mr. Brown’s family,” the statement said. “Based on our investigation, we believe that his unfortunate death was not caused by one of the company’s products. “We believe this lawsuit, which was filed by the same law firm as a previous claim, is also without merit.”

In October, the parents of a college student with heart disease who died in September 2022 after drinking Charged Lemonade filed a lawsuit against Panera. The lawsuit said the student, Sarah Katz, 21, drank the drink likely thinking she had a safe amount of caffeine.

A regular loaded lemonade has 260 milligrams of caffeine and the large size has 390 milligrams, according to Panera’s website.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, most “healthy adults” can safely consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, or about four or five cups of regular coffee, depending on the brand and roast.

Energy drinks often contain high levels of caffeine, added sugars and stimulants that pose significant risks to people with heart disease, who dietitians say should avoid these drinks. Large amounts of caffeine can also overload the cardiac system in people who do not have heart disease.

The lawsuit filed in Delaware said Mr. Brown had high blood pressure, a developmental delay, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and a chromosomal disorder that caused mild intellectual disability and blurred vision.

Mr. Brown advocated for community safety and inclusion of people with disabilities as a member of the Clay County Change Makers Self-Advocacy Group, according to the complaint.

She lived independently and worked for almost 17 years at a Publix supermarket, where she packed bags and walked customers to their cars.

After his shifts at Publix, he went to Panera up to three times a week, according to the lawsuit.

On Oct. 9, he ordered Charged Lemonade and took two refills before walking home, according to the complaint. During the walk he suffered a cardiac event and was found unconscious on a sidewalk, where he was pronounced dead.

The complaint said that at Panera, the loaded lemonade “was offered alongside” caffeine-free or less-caffeinated drinks, and that it was not advertised as an energy drink and had no warnings. The lawsuit does not say whether Mr. Brown ordered a regular or large size.

Mr. Brown died of “cardiac arrest due to hypertensive disease,” according to a death certificate provided by Elizabeth Crawford, an attorney with the law firm Kline & Specter, who represents the families of Mr. Brown and Ms. Katz.

“Dennis is part of a vulnerable population that must be protected,” Crawford said in an emailed statement. “And Panera couldn’t protect Dennis. “Dennis’ family, like the Katz family, hopes this message gets out to prevent this from happening to anyone else again.”

The high levels of caffeine in Charged Lemonade attracted widespread attention and media coverage after a user posted a video in December 2022 on TikTok who was surprised by the drink’s unexpected caffeine content.

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