Panera Sued Multiple Times Over Caffeinated Lemonade

Panera is facing at least three lawsuits over its “Charged” high-caffeine lemonade.

Plaintiffs including Lauren Skerritt of Rhode Island say the drink is causing “permanent cardiac injuries,” according to NBC News. 

Skerritt was an athlete with no underlying health conditions who regularly competed in obstacle course races. She now requires daily medication and has heart problems that have reduced her ability to work, exercise and socialize, according to the complaint.

Two other suits blame the lemonade for the deaths of an Ivy League student with a heart condition and a man in Florida who had a chromosomal deficiency disorder.



After the first wrongful death suit in October, the restaurant chain began advising customers that the drinks contain "about as much caffeine as [Panera's] Dark Roast Coffee" and has cautioned customers to "use in moderation," with a disclaimer that it is "not recommended for children, people sensitive to caffeine, pregnant or nursing women,” according to ABC News. 

So why is the drink still on Panera’s menu?

“Very often in lawsuits, there is a knee-jerk reaction among lawyers to do as little as possible publicly out of some vague fear that you are exposing yourself to additional liability,” crisis PR expert James Haggerty told CNN 

But completely removing the drink from the menu could come across as an implied admission that something was indeed wrong with it in the first place.

“It’s a cost-benefit analysis … the loss of reputational value will often outweigh anything that occurs in the courtroom,” Haggerty says. 

The fast-casual chain has removed the beverage from some self-serve fountains in some locations, according toPeople Magazine.

“Looking for Charged Sips? You can pick up your order on the Rapid Pick-Up shelf or at the pick-up counter. Ask an associate if you need help locating your drink," reads a sign at some Panera locations.

Some locations have also put up signs in front of the charged lemonade dispensers with increased warnings.

Charged Lemonade has gone viral on social media as “the lemonade that kills you,” according to

This is really the story of “the United States’ uniquely weird and patchy regulatory regime.” per Slate. “Rather than double-check that products of all kind are safe and healthy in advance of their release to the people, our great republic relies on these kinds of lawsuits to protect Americans from dangerous products.”

At some point, the Food and Drug Administration may get involved. 

“Under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, companies are responsible for ensuring that any use of caffeine in their products is safe. Under the Act, any substance that is intentionally added to food must be safe under the intended conditions of use. The safe use of the ingredient includes the amount that would be expected to be consumed,” an FDA spokesperson told CNN.

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