Dennis Brown died on Oct. 9 after consuming three cups of Panera’s Charged Lemonade, according to the complaint obtained by PEOPLE
A 46-year-old Florida resident died after drinking Panera’s caffeinated lemonade and his family believes that the drink contributed to his death.
Dennis Brown died on Oct. 9 after consuming three cups of Panera’s Charged Lemonade, according to the complaint obtained by PEOPLE. His mother, sister, and brother are suing the restaurant chain after Brown’s death, alleging that the Charged Lemonade is “dangerous.”
This makes for the second lawsuit against Panera since October blaming the caffeinated lemonade for the death of a customer.
A regular size of the Charged Lemonade drink at Panera contains 260 milligrams of caffeine, while a large has 390 milligrams, according to Panera's website. The drink is advertised as containing “as much caffeine as our Dark Roast coffee,” but the legal complaint says that Panera does not specify the amount of coffee that equates to the Charged Lemonade.
The suit specifies that Brown had a chromosomal deficiency disorder, a developmental delay, a mild intellectual disability and high blood pressure. The long-time Publix grocery store employee allegedly did not consume energy drinks because of his high blood pressure.
Per the lawsuit, Brown went to Panera for meals after his shifts up to three times a week. On Oct. 9, during his 90 minutes at Panera, Brown allegedly ate his meal and drank three cups of Charged Lemonade, “reasonably confident it was a traditional lemonade containing a reasonable amount of caffeine safe for him to drink."
While walking home from the restaurant, Brown suffered a cardiac arrest and was found unresponsive on the sidewalk before being pronounced dead at the scene per the suit.
Brown’s cause of death was cardiac arrest due to hypertensive disease, according to a death certificate provided by Elizabeth Crawford of Kline and Specter, PC. Crawford is representing Brown’s family and the family of Sarah Katz, a college student who died in September 2022 after drinking a Charged Lemonade.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Crawford said that Brown “is part of a vulnerable population that should be protected. And Panera failed to protect Dennis."
She added: "Dennis' family, just like the Katz family, hopes this message gets out to prevent this tragedy from happening again to anyone else.”
A spokesperson for Panera shared a statement with PEOPLE upon learning of the lawsuit.
"Panera expresses our deep sympathy for Mr. Brown's family. Based on our investigation, we believe his unfortunate passing was not caused by one of the company's products," the spokesperson for the brand said. "We view this lawsuit, which was filed by the same law firm as a previous claim, to be equally without merit. Panera stands firmly by the safety of our products."
The legal complaint describes Brown as an advocate for inclusion for people with disabilities and a lover of animals. With the support of his family and life coaches, Brown lived independently and loved his job, which he had for nearly 17 years.
The lawsuit filed by the Brown family claims that the Charged Lemonade was served side-by-side with Panera’s non-caffeinated and less caffeinated drinks and lacked any signage with warnings at the location Brown dined at before his death.
Some Panera locations put up signs with increased warning in front of the charged lemonade dispensers after the Katz family filed their lawsuit in October.
“Contains CAFFEINE – Consume in Moderation. NOT RECOMMENDED FOR children, people sensitive to caffeine, pregnant or nursing women,” signs read at some Panera locations, as confirmed by PEOPLE.
When customers try ordering a beverage on the Panera website, a similar warning message now appears at the top: “Charged Sips contain 245-390mg of CAFFEINE - Consume in Moderation. NOT RECOMMENDED FOR children, people sensitive to caffeine, pregnant or nursing women.”
In October, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that they were “gathering information” on Panera's "Charged Lemonade" following the death of Sarah Katz.
“The FDA is saddened to hear of the passing of a consumer and as always, takes seriously reports of illnesses or injury from regulated products,” an FDA spokesperson said in a statement to PEOPLE. “At this point, we are gathering information about this event.”
The statement continued: “The agency monitors the marketplace of FDA-regulated products and takes action as appropriate, including collaborating with the Federal Trade Commission regarding marketing claims.”
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Read the original article on People.