Woman sues Panera Bread after drinking Charged Lemonade

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By Dan Sears

A 28-year-old obstacle course racer claimed she was rushed to the emergency room after suffering heart problems caused by a popular beverage from Panera Bread that is said to contain as much caffeine as three cans of Red Bull, according to a lawsuit.

Lauren Skerritt, a Smithfield, R.I. resident, became the third person to sue the restaurant chain over its “Charged Lemonade” — after two others suffered fatal heart attacks, according to news reports.

All three lawsuits were filed by plaintiffs represented by personal injury attorney Elizabeth Crawford.

Panera has said the previous two lawsuits were “equally without merit.”

Skerritt alleged in the complaint that she suffered an irregular heartbeat the day after consuming two and a half servings of Panera Bread’s “Charged Lemonade” that she bought from the chain’s outpost in Greenville, R.I. on April 8 of last year.

Skerritt was rushed to the emergency room on April 9, where doctors diagnosed her with atrial fibrillation — a heart condition that could lead to stroke and other complications, according to the complaint.

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Lauren Skerritt became the third person to file suit against Panera Bread over its “Charged Lemonade.” Courtesy Elizabeth Crawford

Since that time, Skerritt has experienced “recurrent episodes of rapid heartbeat that occur suddenly and without pattern,” according to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Delaware superior court.

“Lauren continues to experience supraventricular tachycardia with associated shortness of breath, palpitations, brain fog, difficulty thinking and concentrating, body shakes, and weakness,” said the complaint, which was first reported by NBC News.

Skerritt and her husband have put off plans to have a child due to the fact that “she will have a high-risk pregnancy and may have complications during the pregnancy,” the lawsuit alleged.

Skerritt alleged in her lawsuit that she went to the emergency room the day after consuming two-and-a-half servings of Charged Lemonade. Gado via Getty Images

Panera Bread, the $5.8 billion chain which boasts nearly 2,200 locations across the US, is incorporated in Delaware.

A company spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Last October, the family of Sarah Katz, a 21-year-old University of Pennsylvania student, sued Panera, claiming the lemonade beverage was responsible for her fatal heart attack hours after she drank the caffeine-rich product.

Skerritt purchased the beverages from a Panera Bread location in Greenville, R.I. on April 8 of last year.

According to the complaint, Katz “consumed the Panera Charged Lemonade, reasonably confident it was a traditional lemonade” or an “electrolyte sports drink containing a reasonable amount of caffeine safe for her to drink.”

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On that same day, Katz “suffered a cardiac arrest” while dining with friends at a restaurant in her apartment building, according to the complaint.

Katz’s family alleged in the complaint that Panera included the beverage as part of its “Sip Club” in which customers are urged to “drink unlimited Panera Charged Lemonade every day.”

The family of Sarah Katz, 21, alleged that she died of cardiac arrest after she consumed a Charged Lemonade. Courtesy Katz Family

“We were very saddened to learn this morning about the tragic passing of Sarah Katz, and our hearts go out to her family,” a Panera spokesperson told The Post.

The spokesperson said the company “strongly believe[s] in transparency around our ingredients.”

“We will work quickly to thoroughly investigate this matter,” the company rep told The Post.

Last month, the family of Dennis Brown, a 46-year-old resident of Florida, filed suit against Panera Bread alleging that he died of cardiac arrest just hours after drinking a Charged Lemonade.

Dennis Brown, 46, died of cardiac arrest. His family alleged that Charged Lemonade was to blame. Family of Dennis Brown / Action News Jax

According to Panera’s menu, a large Charged Lemonade has 390 milligrams of caffeine, close to the FDA’s 400-milligram daily maximum intake.

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Panera’s 30-ounce charged lemonade also contains more caffeine than both Red Bull and Monster energy drinks combined.

Panera released a statement about the lawsuit filed by Brown’s family, saying: “Panera expresses our deep sympathy for Mr. Brown’s family.”

“Based on our investigation we believe his unfortunate passing was not caused by one of the company’s products,” the company said.

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