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Panera faces second wrongful death lawsuit over lemonade

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P.anera Bread is facing a second wrongful death lawsuit after a customer allegedly died after consuming its popular “loaded lemonade” caffeinated drink. The lawsuit, filed Monday, details the death of Dennis Brown, a 46-year-old Florida man who died in October after consuming three servings of the beverage.

According to the wrongful death lawsuit filed by Brown’s family in Delaware Superior Court, Brown suffered a “cardiac event” while walking home after eating Panera Bread in Fleming Island, Fla., on Oct. 9 . The suit alleges that Panera “knew or should have known” that loaded lemonade could pose risks, particularly to children, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and people sensitive to caffeine.

The loaded lemonade, which contains more caffeine in its large size than a 12-ounce Red Bull and a 16-ounce Monster Energy drink combined, has been the center of legal scrutiny in recent months. Following the first wrongful death lawsuit in which a 21-year-old woman died after consuming the beverage, filed in October, Panera claimed to have “enhanced our current disclosure of caffeine” on its platforms and in restaurants.

The lawsuit filed in Delaware revealed that Brown ordered the billed lemonade from Panera at least seven times over the course of two weeks in September and October. It also revealed Brown’s health problems, including high blood pressure, developmental delay, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and a chromosomal disorder causing mild intellectual disability and blurred vision. The lawsuit said Brown believed Panera’s Loaded Lemonade was safe since it was not advertised as an energy drink.

In response to Brown’s case, Panera released a statement Tuesday expressing sympathy for the family while strongly defending the safety of its products. The release states that the company’s investigation led them to believe that Brown’s death was not caused by their product. Panera called the lawsuit, filed by the same law firm as the previous complaint, “equally baseless.”

In October, a lawsuit filed by the parents of Sarah Katz, a college student with heart disease who died in September 2022 after drinking the loaded lemonade, suggested that Katz likely thought the drink contained a safe amount of caffeine. A regular Loaded Lemonade contains 260 milligrams of caffeine, while the large size contains 390 milligrams, according to Panera’s website.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that most “healthy adults” can safely consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, emphasizing the importance of individual tolerance levels and health concerns. Energy drinks, such as loaded lemonade, often contain high levels of caffeine, sugars and stimulants that pose risks, especially for people with heart disease. The loaded lemonade’s unexpected caffeine content gained attention after a December 2022 TikTok video highlighted the drink’s incredibly high levels.

“Panera Charged Lemonade is a juice drink marketed to children and adults,” the new lawsuit claims. “This marketing is particularly dangerous to a vulnerable population, children and adults who might reasonably believe that this product is lemonade and is safe for consumption.” The lawsuit also claims the drink poses a risk because it is mixed in individual stores, meaning its caffeine content is not strictly controlled. The lawsuit notes that loaded lemonade was offered alongside non-caffeinated options at Panera and was not billed as an energy drink. drink with the accompanying warnings.



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