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Panera sued by family of 21-year-old with heart issue who died after drinking ‘Charged Lemonade’

A lawsuit has been filed against Panera Bread after a woman died after she drank some of the "Charged Lemonade." The woman had a heart condition and her parents claim the drink contributed to her death.

The parents of a 21-year-old University of Pennsylvania student have filed a lawsuit against Panera Bread saying their daughter died after consuming a drink that contained a large amount of caffeine.

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According to the suit filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Sarah Katz had a heart condition called long QT syndrome type 1 and avoided energy drinks at the recommendation of her doctors.

The suit goes on to say Katz had a “Charged Lemonade,” at the restaurant and went into cardiac arrest while at a restaurant with friends. She died after being transported to the hospital and suffering a second arrest, according to the lawsuit, which was filed Monday morning.

“We were very saddened to learn this morning about the tragic passing of Sarah Katz, and our hearts go out to her family,” Panera told CNN in a statement. “At Panera, we strongly believe in transparency around our ingredients. We will work quickly to thoroughly investigate this matter.”

According to the suit, customers are not warned that one large Charged Lemonade, a 30-oz drink, contains 390 milligrams of caffeine - the equivalent of four cups of coffee or three-and-a-half 12-oz cans of Red Bull.

The suit claims Panera failed to appropriately warn consumers about the ingredients of the drink or label it an “energy drink,” or one that contains a large amount of caffeine, NBC reported.

Katz knew she had a heart issue but did not know the amount of caffeine that was in the Charged Lemonade drink because she was not warned, the suit claims.

According to Panera, the “Charged Lemonade” includes sugar, caffeine, coffee extract and guarana extract, which are both sources of caffeine.

The lawsuit challenges how the drink is referred to in restaurants.

“Defendants market, advertise, and sell Panera Charged Lemonade as a product that is ‘Plant-based and Clean with as much caffeine as our Dark Roast Coffee,’” the lawsuit reads. However, in their stores, Panera does “not specify what size of Panera Dark Roast coffee is akin to a Panera Charged Lemonade,” making the comparison vague and “unhelpful.”

Katz was diagnosed with long QT syndrome (LQTS) when she was 5, according to the suit, and managed symptoms by taking medication and limiting caffeine.

According to Katz’s autopsy report, her cause of death was listed as cardiac arrhythmia due to long QT syndrome, CNN reported.

Caffeine can exacerbate LQTS, a disorder that can cause irregular heartbeats that can be life-threatening, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“We want to make sure that the drink includes a warning, or is taken off the shelf,” Elizabeth Crawford, the attorney for Katz’s parents, told CNN. “It’s a dangerous energy drink and it’s not advertised that way. We want to make sure this does not happen to someone else.”

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