Rhode Island Woman Sues Panera Bread, Claims Charged Lemonade Caused Long-Term Heart Complications

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – A Rhode Island woman is suing Panera Bread after alleging that the chain’s Charged Lemonade caused her long-term heart issues. Lauren Skerritt, a 28-year-old occupational therapist and vegetarian, consumed two-and-a-half Charged Lemonades at a Panera Bread location in Smithfield, Rhode Island, last April. Skerritt claims she chose the caffeinated beverage because she believed it was “plant-based and clean” based on its advertising.

After drinking the lemonade, Skerritt reportedly began experiencing heart palpitations and dizziness. She sought medical treatment at Rhode Island Hospital, where she was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, an irregular and rapid heartbeat that can lead to serious complications.

According to the lawsuit, Skerritt now suffers from recurring episodes of rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, brain fog, body shakes, weakness, and has developed a tremor in one hand. She has been prescribed medication for early-onset atrial fibrillation and can no longer work, exercise, or socialize as she used to. Skerritt and her husband have also been forced to put their plans to start a family on hold due to her high-risk condition during pregnancy.

This is the third lawsuit filed against Panera Bread regarding its Charged Lemonade. Two previous cases involved the alleged deaths of a 46-year-old Florida man and a 21-year-old University of Pennsylvania student. The lemonade is sold in three flavors – Fuji Apple Cranberry, Strawberry Lemon Mint, and Mango Citrus. The drinks are mixed in-house and contain varying amounts of caffeine, ranging from 124 mg to 236 mg, according to the new warnings on Panera Bread’s website.

The lawsuit alleges that Panera Bread’s lemonade is a “dangerous drink” that is not properly advertised as containing high levels of caffeine, sugar, and other additives. It is marketed as a “safe-for-all beverage” displayed alongside other drink options. In response to the lawsuits, Panera Bread has changed its advertising approach for the Charged Lemonade, now describing it online as a “naturally flavored” and “plant-based” beverage that should be consumed in moderation and is not recommended for children, pregnant women, nursing mothers, or those sensitive to caffeine.

Representing Skerritt and the families affected by the alleged lemonade-related incidents, attorney Elizabeth Crawford argues that the “dangerous super energy drink” should not be sold and, if it is, should come with adequate warnings. The aim is to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future. Panera Bread has not yet responded to requests for comment but previously stated that the previous lawsuits against them were “without merit” and that the company stands by the safety of its products.