A Rhode Island woman has sued Panera Bread over its viral caffeinated drink, “Charged Lemonade,” claiming it caused permanent damage to her heart.
Lauren Skerritt, 28, filed her lawsuit against the restaurant chain on Tuesday, the New York Post reported. She alleged that the drink caused her permanent cardiac injury, even though she had no underlying medical conditions and was very physically active prior to drinking the lemonade.
Skerritt reportedly experienced heart palpitations and dizziness that warranted repeated hospital visits after drinking two-and-a-half of the lemonades last April. Since then, per the lawsuit, Skerritt claims that she can no longer exercise as she once did and must take medication to regulate her heart, citing additional ongoing health issues.
“Lauren continues to experience supraventricular tachycardia with associated shortness of breath, palpitations, brain fog, difficulty thinking and concentrating, body shakes, and weakness,” said the lawsuit, according to the New York Post.
Additionally, Skerritt says that she and her husband have had to delay an attempt at pregnancy because her condition would render it high-risk.
Panera launched its Charged Lemonades in early 2022, marketing it as a “clean and plant-based” caffeine.
Initially, the chain disclosed on its website that its large cups of the lemonade contained nearly 400 milligrams of caffeine, which is the recommended maximum daily intake according to the FDA. In recent months, the chain updated the lemonades to reflect a caffeine amount of about 230 milligrams in a large cup. The chain offers unlimited free refills of the drink.
Users online began noticing the lemonade’s high caffeine amounts in the months after it debuted. One user in a viral December 2022 video said she had regularly consumed multiple cups of the drink in a day until her husband happened to research the drink’s contents and she became aware of — and alarmed by — the caffeine amount.
“Panera Bread, this drink should come with a warning because it’s delicious and will lead to my cardiac arrest,” said the user, Sarah Baus.
Two other families have sued the chain through the same firm representing Skerritt, claiming the deaths of their loved ones resulted from drinking the lemonade.
One of the lawsuits claimed that Sarah Katz, a 21-year-old University of Pennsylvania student with Long QT syndrome, experienced two cardiac arrhythmias and died shortly after drinking one of the lemonades in September 2022. Her parents sued the chain last October.
Another suit alleges that 46-year-old Dennis Brown experienced cardiac arrest and died after drinking three cups of Panera’s lemonade. Brown had high blood pressure. His family sued the restaurant chain last month.
Following the Brown family’s lawsuit, Panera issued a statement claiming no responsibility for either of the deaths.
“Based on our investigation we believe [Brown’s] unfortunate passing was not caused by one of the company’s products,” the company said. “We view this lawsuit, which was filed by the same law firm as a previous claim, to be equally without merit. Panera stands firmly by the safety of our products.”
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