Lemonade Left Teen 'as Close as You Can Come' to Death: Suit

It's the 4th fatal or near-fatal incident alleged to be tied to Panera drink
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted May 21, 2024 12:30 AM CDT
Teen Nearly Died After Drinking Panera Lemonade: Suit
FILE - A Panera Bread sign and logo is attached to the outside of a Panera Bread restaurant location in the Studio City section of Los Angeles, on Thursday, March 7, 2024.   (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

The number of lawsuits over fatal or near-fatal incidents allegedly linked to Panera's Charged Lemonade is now four. The family of a Pennsylvania teen filed a suit this week, shortly after the restaurant chain announced it was discontinuing the beverage, NBC News reports. Luke Adams, 18, says he drank one of the lemonades on March 9, not realizing its ultra-high caffeine content, before heading to the movies with his friends. In the theater, he started making a strange noise—and when a friend elbowed him to tell him to stop, he realized Adams was unresponsive and didn't appear to be breathing, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported earlier this month.

Two nurses and a cardiologist happened to be at the same movie, and they performed CPR and used the theater's automated external defibrillator to shock his heart twice. He was rushed to the hospital, where he had two seizures, and spent two days intubated. After six days, he was released, with no signs of permanent damage to his heart—but a subcutaneous defibrillator was implanted, and it will shock his heart if it experiences a life-threatening rhythm again. "He was about as close as you can come to being dead," says a cardiologist who worked on him at the hospital. No underlying health conditions or heart abnormalities were found, but medical notes included in the lawsuit say that "heavy caffeine intake" was the only potential trigger for the cardiac arrest and that it also likely had something to do with the seizures.

Three other lawsuits blame the drink for two deaths (those of a 21-year-old Pennsylvania student and a 46-year-old Florida man) and the serious, permanent cardiac injuries suffered by a 28-year-old Rhode Island woman. Adams' mother says she cried when she heard Panera is discontinuing the drink. "They were tears of joy, because no other parent will ever have to go through this because of a Panera lemonade again." (More Panera Bread stories.)

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