Panera Faces A Third Lawsuit Over Its Controversial Charged Lemonade

Panera is continuing to face legal woes due to its caffeine-packed Charged Lemonade. The national bakery and cafe chain has been hit with its third lawsuit connected to Charged Lemonade. The first two were prompted by the deaths of 21-year-old Sarah Katz in 2022 and 46-year-old Dennis Brown in 2023. According to a report by NBC News, both had health conditions that required them to avoid caffeine and energy drinks, but an attorney for the families claimed the company presented the lemonade in a way that made it look harmless. Now, yet another lawsuit has been filed, this one by a Rhode Island woman who claims she experienced health issues after consuming the beverage.

According to 28-year-old Lauren Skerritt, the lemonade left her with "permanent cardiac injuries." Per the filing, Skerritt was an athlete who didn't have health problems before drinking 2.5 servings of the lemonade last April. After consuming the beverage, she had palpitations and dizziness. Skerritt went to the emergency room and discovered she had atrial fibrillation, also known as AFib. Characterized by a fast and irregular heart rhythm, the condition raises the risk of having a stroke, heart failure, and other difficulties. In Skerritt's case, a series of symptoms has allegedly persisted, including an irregularly rapid heartbeat, brain fog, and weakness.

The beverage's caffeine content has been criticized

Although the company appears to have lowered the caffeine content in its Charged Lemonades to a maximum of 236 milligrams of caffeine following the controversy, at the time of all three incidents, the sip featured up to 390 milligrams per large, 30-ounce serving. That's the equivalent of about six shots of espresso, which contains around 64 milligrams of caffeine per ounce (per the USDA), or nearly five cans of Red Bull, which contain 80 milligrams of caffeine per 8.4-ounce can.

The Food and Drug Administration has indicated that many "healthy adults" might drink as much as 400 milligrams of caffeine without suffering negative side effects. Legal filings allege that part of the lemonade's danger lies in the fact that Panera advertised its Charged Lemonade as containing "as much caffeine as [its] dark roast coffee." However, a 30-ounce cup of Panera's dark roast iced coffee contains 137 milligrams less caffeine than a large order of the Charged Lemonade did at the time. The lemonade was also available as a self-serve option alongside less caffeinated beverages.

Panera's Charged Lemonades now sit behind the counter to be served by employees, and the company issued a disclaimer stating that the items are "not recommended for children, people sensitive to caffeine, pregnant or nursing women." It also advises consumers to drink the beverages in moderation.