Panera to discontinue Charged Lemonade following multiple death lawsuits

Jersey City resident Sarah Katz and a 46-year-old man from Florida both died after consuming the beverage.

Naomi Yané

May 8, 2024, 12:18 AM

Updated 14 days ago

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Panera Bread is pulling its Charged Lemonade drinks from the menu. This move came after a handful of lawsuits, including one from the family of a New Jersey woman who died after consuming the beverage.
Panera officials didn’t outright say they were axing the drink because of the lawsuits, but instead, said their menu was undergoing a transformation. News 12 was told the drinks will be phased out.
News 12 spoke to attorney Elizabeth Crawford who is representing the family of Sarah Katz, the Jersey City woman who died after drinking the highly caffeinated drink.
"It certainly doesn’t take away the fact that the product led to the death of Sarah Katz. What it does do is to help prevent it from happening to someone else,” Crawford says.
Katz, 21, died in September 2022 from a cardiac arrest allegedly caused by the caffeinated lemonade drink sold at Panera Bread. Her family filed a lawsuit against the restaurant last October. On Tuesday, her family’s attorney says the first goal of the lawsuit was accomplished.
"One of the objectives of filing this lawsuit by the family was to get this product, first of all exposed so that the public was aware of its potential dangers of the product, and then also to get this product removed,” says Crawford.
The chain restaurant said its menu was undergoing a transformation that began with its core options of sandwiches and salads. In a statement, a Panera Bread spokesperson said in part, “We listened to more than 30,000 guests about what they wanted from Panera and are focusing next on the broad array of beverages we know our guests desire – ranging from exciting, on-trend flavors to low sugar and low-caffeine options.”
The Katz family attorney says she isn't surprised by that response.
"First the lawsuit’s filed, and then they put on those enhanced warnings alerting people that the product is highly caffeinated, and it may not be for certain individuals and then more lawsuits get filed and then they remove the product. And to think that that’s a coincidence and has nothing to do with the fact that they’ve looked into this product and that they’ve deemed that it has been dangerous - I don’t think we believe in coincidences like that,” says Crawford.
Katz was diagnosed with a heart condition at the age of 5. Because of her condition, she was on medication, limited her caffeine intake and stayed away from energy drinks. The lawsuit says the large lemonade charger Katz drank wasn’t properly labeled and was the equivalent of three energy drinks, a dangerous amount for someone with an underlying heart condition.
Though the drinks are being pulled from rotation the lawsuits against Panera Bread are still in litigation. The Katz family has a trial date in September.


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