Lawsuit Filed Against Panera After Student Dies

( – Bakery and restaurant chain Panera is facing a lawsuit after a 21-year-old died. The student suffered a fatal cardiac arrest after drinking one of the company’s energy drinks. Now her parents say the caffeine-enhanced lemonade should have carried a health warning.

On September 10, 2022, Sarah Katz ordered a Charged Lemonade from her local Panera. Soon after drinking it she went into cardiac arrest and died. Katz suffered from Long QT syndrome, a lifelong heart condition that can cause irregular heartbeat, seizures, and death.

Attacks can be triggered by stimulant drugs, such as caffeine. Because of her condition, Katz had always avoided heavily caffeinated drinks, such as energy drinks. However, she apparently didn’t realize Panera’s “Charged Lemonade” was an energy drink, despite its name, the company advertising it as containing as much caffeine as a dark roast coffee, and details of the drink’s caffeine content being displayed on the Panera website.

Although an autopsy simply cited Katz’s death as being due to cardiac arrhythmia caused by Long QT syndrome, her parents are claiming the Charged Lemonade she drank killed her, and blame Panera for not explicitly labeling it as an energy drink. The lawsuit they filed in Pennsylvania on October 22 alleges the company “misled” her into thinking Charged Lemonade was regular, uncaffeinated lemonade.

The suit claims Katz was “reasonably confident” the drink contained a safe level of caffeine, while in reality, it’s as caffeinated as coffee. According to the suit, a large (30oz) serving of Charged Lemonade contains 390 mg of caffeine, close to the 400mg daily limit recommended by the FDA. Katz’s parents say Panera should have known the drink could be dangerous to some customers and should display its exact caffeine content on the container. The amount of caffeine contained in different serving sizes is currently shown on the sign on the front of Panera’s drink dispensers.

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