Panera Bread Sued after Charged Lemonade Fatality

( – A University of Pennsylvania student died just hours after consuming a “charged lemonade” from Panera Bread. Sarah Katz, 21, was a research assistant at the Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP) and taught CPR. She also had a heart condition, long QT syndrome type 1, which led her to avoid energy drinks on her doctor’s recommendation.

Charged lemonades from Panera are listed as having 389mg of caffeine. For comparison, an average cup of coffee is around 120 mg of caffeine and each can of Red Bull has approximately 80 mg. The FDA has previously issued warnings about beverages with high caffeine content.

NBC News obtained the lawsuit filed by the Katz family in which they call the charged lemonade a “dangerous energy drink.” Their complaint alleges Panera failed to inform its customers of the contents and risks associated with the beverage. The lawsuit also indicates that Sarah Katz had avoided energy drinks on the recommendation of her doctor.

Panera responded by putting out a statement saying that the company was “very saddened” to hear about her death, offering condolences to the family. They promised a quick investigation of the matter.

Katz had purchased the drink from a Panera Bread restaurant in Philadelphia on September 10th, according to the legal complaint. She suffered cardiac arrest just a few hours later, according to her roommate, Victoria Rose Conroy.

Conroy said Katz had been “very, very vigilant” about avoiding caffeinated beverages, and that she never would have consumed the charged lemonade had she been informed of the caffeine content.

The wrongful death suit indicates that the drink was sold alongside other caffeinated and non-caffeinated beverages and the description of plant-based, clean energy was misleading.

The drink also contains guarana extract, which is another potent stimulant often included in energy drinks. An attorney for the family, Elizabeth Crawford, said that the drink should come with “an adequate warning.”

Physicians familiar with Katz’s condition told Yahoo News that caffeine was allowed for people who have the condition, in moderation. Katz had purchased an Unlimited Sip Cup membership from Panera which entitled her to endless beverages for a monthly fee. Conroy indicated that she consumed another charged lemonade in the days before she died without incident.

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