Family files lawsuit against Panera Bread after daughter died from ‘charged lemonade’

Sarah Katz died last September after consuming the caffeinated drink. She was diagnosed with a heart condition at the age of 5.

Naomi Yané

Oct 27, 2023, 12:19 AM

Updated 180 days ago

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A Jersey City family filed a lawsuit against Panera Bread after their daughter died from cardiac arrest allegedly caused by a drink the restaurant sells. Sarah Katz, 21, died last September. According to a lawsuit filed by her parents on Monday, Panera Bread’s “charged lemonades” caused the woman to go into cardiac arrest.
According to Elizabeth Crawford, the Katz family attorney, at the age of 5, the University of Pennsylvania student was diagnosed with a heart condition known as Long Q-T Type 1. The condition disrupts heart function and causes an irregular heartbeat. Because of her condition, Katz was on medication. She also limited her caffeine intake and stayed away from energy drinks
"Energy drinks are different from just your average coffee or caffeine because they often contain really high levels of caffeine,” says Crawford.
The lawsuit alleges Panera Bread did not advertise the lemonade as an energy drink. Instead, it was labeled as clean, plant-based and containing as much caffeine as a cup of their dark roast coffee, which Crawford says Katz was allowed to have, even with her condition. Crawford says the large lemonade charger Katz drank was the equivalent of three energy drinks, a dangerous amount for someone with an underlying heart condition.
"When it came to the parents’ attention that she’d had that drink, they started investigating the drink. That’s when they discovered the drink had 390 milligrams of caffeine if you have only one. They started talking to cardiologists and found that this is the type of thing that would have caused her death,” says Crawford.
In a statement, a spokesperson for Panera Bread said in part, "At Panera, we strongly believe in transparency around our ingredients. We will work quickly to thoroughly investigate this matter."
The Katz family and their attorney want the restaurant to be held accountable and to either remove the product or have proper warnings.


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