Suits against Panera’s Charged Lemonade have been filed numerous times. What keeps it on the menu?

In recent months, the restaurant chain Panera Bread has been the target of three different lawsuits alleging that the high caffeine content in its Charged Lemonade caused irreversible health problems in one customer and the death of two others. Crisis PR expert James Haggerty told CNN that during lawsuits, lawyers frequently have a knee-jerk reaction to do as little as possible in public out of a vague fear of incurring additional liability. Haggerty noted that this approach can negatively impact a company’s market value, sometimes to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

 

Eliminating the drink entirely from the menu can be interpreted as an implicit acknowledgment that there was a problem with it to begin with. However, as Haggerty puts it: “It’s a cost-benefit analysis; the damage to one’s reputation will frequently outweigh any legal proceedings.” A corporation will lose significantly more money via a negative public relations campaign than from a lawsuit, as history has repeatedly demonstrated,” he continued. The Charged Lemonade is accused in both wrongful death lawsuits of failing to warn consumers about its high caffeine content and failing to properly disclose this information.

 

She allegedly unintentionally drank the Charged Lemonade because she was “reasonably confident it was a traditional lemonade and/or electrolyte sports drink containing a reasonable amount of caffeine safe for her to drink,” according to the first lawsuit, which was filed in October by the family of a 21-year-old college student with a heart condition. According to the lawsuit, Panera misled customers by failing to properly identify the lemonade as an energy drink in retail locations. In a similar vein, the product was allegedly mislabeled in the second complaint, which was brought in December by the family of a 46-year-old man who had ADHD, chromosomal deficiency condition, and high blood pressure.

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