A highly caffeinated drink sold by US bakery chain Panera Bread has been blamed for two deaths after a second lawsuit was filed on Monday.
Dennis Brown is said to have drunk three Charged Lemonades from a Panera Bread on 9 October before suffering a fatal cardiac arrest on his way home in Florida, according to Sky News’ partner network NBC News.
The 46-year-old did not normally consume energy drinks because he had high blood pressure, according to lawsuit filed this week.
It adds that it is unclear whether Mr Brown, who had had a developmental delay and a mild intellectual disability, knew how much caffeine and sugar was in the drink because it was available in self-serve dispensers “offered side-by-side with all of the store’s non-caffeinated and/or less caffeinated drinks.”
Mr Brown’s cause of death was cardiac arrest due to hypertensive disease, according to a death certificate seen by NBC News.
Panera advertises the beverage as “plant-based an clean with as much caffeine as our dark roast coffee.”
The complaints refer to it as a “dangerous energy drink” and argue that Panera fails to appropriately warn consumers about its caffeine contents.
A large cup, the lawsuits allege, contains 390mg of caffeine – more than the caffeine content of standard cans of Red Bull and Monster energy drinks combined.
In a statement provided to NBC News, Panera expressed its “deep sympathy for Mr Brown’s family” and said it stood by the safety of its products.
“Based on our investigation we believe his unfortunate passing was not caused by one of the company’s products,” it added.
“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 first legal complaint referred to Sarah Katz, who died on 10 September last year after going into cardiac arrest.
The lawsuit filed in October alleges the 21-year-old, who had a heart condition called long QT syndrome type 1, bought a Charged Lemonade from a Panera Bread store in Philadelphia hours before her death.
She did this, it claims, despite the fact she avoided energy drinks at the recommendation of her doctors.
Her roommate and close friend, Victoria Rose Conroy, told NBC News: “She [Ms Katz] was very, very vigilant about what she needed to do to keep herself safe.
“I guarantee if Sarah had known how much caffeine this was, she never would have touched it with a 10-foot pole.”
A Panera spokesperson at the time said: “We were very saddened to learn this morning about the tragic passing of Sarah Katz, and our hearts go out to her family.
“At Panera, we strongly believe in transparency around our ingredients. We will work quickly to thoroughly investigate this matter.”