Shocking lawsuit: Deadly drink still being served at popular cafe

FLEMING ISLAND, Fla. — Panera Bread is facing another lawsuit after a second person died allegedly due to consuming the company’s Charged Lemonade. A lawsuit filed in Delaware Superior Court on Monday claims Dennis Brown, a 46-year-old resident of Fleming Island, unknowingly consumed high levels of caffeine by drinking three of the beverages on October 9, leading to a fatal cardiac arrest.

The lawsuit claims that Brown, who had a chromosomal deficiency disorder, developmental delay, and ADHD, suffered from a fatal cardiac arrest while walking home after consuming the drinks. Brown’s family states that he had high blood pressure and did not consume energy drinks, and the Charged Lemonade was not advertised as such. They argue that there were no warnings about the potentially dangerous effects of drinking concentrated amounts of caffeine and sugar.

This wrongful death suit is the second legal action filed against Panera Bread in relation to its Charged Lemonade. In October, the family of 21-year-old Sarah Katz, a college student with a heart condition, filed a complaint after she died in September 2024 following the consumption of a Charged Lemonade beverage. The lawsuit alleged that the product contained more caffeine than Red Bull and Monster Energy Drink combined but included no warning regarding its caffeine content.

According to the lawsuits, a large 30-ounce Mango Yuzu Citrus Charged Lemonade contains 390 milligrams of caffeine and 124 grams of sugar. Panera’s website listed a lower caffeine and sugar count for the same product and size, but the higher amounts were stated to be without ice. On its website, Panera now advises that the beverages should be consumed in moderation and are not recommended for certain groups, including children, pregnant women, and caffeine-sensitive individuals.

Elizabeth Crawford, a partner at Kline & Specter, one of the firms involved in the legal actions against Panera, noted that the company had made changes since the initial lawsuit was filed. Panera has reportedly reduced the caffeine content in the Charged Lemonade, displayed additional warnings, and now keeps the product behind the counter. However, a Panera spokesperson declined to comment on whether the company had indeed decreased the amount of caffeine in the drink.

Panera, privately held by German investment firm JAB Holding Co., currently operates over 2,000 eateries across the United States and Canada. While sympathizing with Brown’s family, the company denies any connection between his death and its caffeinated drinks.

The FDA recommends that adults not consume more than 400 milligrams of caffeine, which amounts to a total of four cups of coffee each day. Additionally, sugars should make up less than 10% of total calories in a 2,000-calorie diet, meaning a maximum of 50 grams.

The FDA has stated that it is gathering information regarding Sarah Katz’s death but did not respond to a request for comment on this lawsuit. Brown’s family hopes that their lawsuit will raise awareness and prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.