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Panera Sued After Teen's Cardiac Arrest Linked to Charged Lemonade

The restaurant chain is accused of defective design and manufacturing, as well as inadequate warnings.

A Pennsylvania teenager is suing Panera after a cardiac arrest episode that followed consuming the fast casual chain’s Charged Lemonade, claiming defective design, manufacturing and inadequate warnings regarding the beverage.

According to the lawsuit, the incident took place on March 9 when 18-year-old Luke Adams drank a large Mango Yuzu Citrus Charged Lemonade. Later that day, at a movie theater, Adams went into cardiac arrest, which medical examination linked to ventricular fibrillation, a type of heart arrhythmia that can be triggered by caffeine.

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After CPR and two electric shocks from an AED, Adams was transported to a hospital, where he was admitted to the ICU, intubated and put on a ventilator. Adams also suffered two seizures at the hospital. 

The lawsuit said Adams eventually regained consciousness two days after consuming the drink and now has an implantable cardioverter defibrillator and an underlying heart condition.

After regaining consciousness, a cardiology report identified “heavy caffeine intake” as the “only potential trigger” for Adams’ cardiac arrest. 

The lawsuit alleges that the Panera Charged Lemonade is defectively manufactured because the company’s employees mix “unsafe ingredients” in-house. It also called the beverage a “dangerous energy drink” that is defective in design. 

A document filed by Adams’ lawyers provided details on the beverage, mentioning that it can include up to 390 milligrams of caffeine. Additionally, the drink contains ingredients that are classified as “stimulants” by the CDC, which can increase blood pressure, heart rate, breathing and pose risks to the nervous system. 

Finally, the lawsuit claims Panera did not properly warn customers of the Charged Lemonade’s dangers, marketing it as a “naturally flavored” and “plant-based” beverage rather than an “energy drink.” 

The firm representing Adams has already filed three lawsuits against Panera, two of which involve victims who died after drinking the company’s “Charged” beverages, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported

After the first wrongful death lawsuit that involved a 21-year-old college student, Panera added a warning to the drinks that advised consumers to use in moderation and recommended that children, pregnant or nursing women and people sensitive to caffeine avoid it.

Nearly two months after Adams’ cardiac arrest, the company announced it would discontinue the “Charged” drinks on May 7, the Associated Press reported. However, Panera still lists the drinks on its online menu, including the one that Adams drank.

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