FLEMING ISLAND, Fla. — The family of a Jacksonville-area man is suing a popular restaurant chain, Panera Bread after they say Panera’s ‘Charged Lemonade’ drink contributed to his death, as reported by our sister station Action News Jax.
The lawsuit was filed Monday afternoon on behalf of Dennis Brown’s family.
Dennis Brown, 46, was the friendly face at your grocery store checkout line as a Publix bagger for nearly 17 years. He had a loving family, and plenty of friends, and he was well-known for making people feel special.
“I will tell you Dennis and I were pretty close,” Deanne Burgess said. Burgess was Dennis’ “supportive living coach.”
“I’ve never met anyone like him,” Burgess said.
He was living with chromosomal deficiency disorder, developmental delay, high blood pressure, and ADHD. However, he walked to and from work every day on Fleming Island in Clay County. He was working to eat healthier, and he lived independently with the help of Burgess and his other coaches.
One of the things Burgess and Brown did regularly was go out to lunch. Brown liked going to Panera Bread, thinking it was a healthier option to other fast-food restaurants. The two would go several times a week.
“I always looked forward to being with him,” Burgess said. “I spoke to him every day. I could probably write a book on the text messages and the voicemails that we’ve talked back and forth about: his family, the things he wants to do in the future.”
Brown died on October 9, 2023. His family and friends believed his death was entirely preventable.
Three weeks before his death, Dennis began ordering the franchise’s “Charged Lemonade.” On the day he died, he had just left Panera Bread on Fleming Island, according to the lawsuit.
Burgess got the call. “I called the detective back, and he said ‘I believe we have somebody that you work with that is deceased on the side of the road in Fleming Island,’” Burgess said.
The death certificate said Brown died of cardiac arrest.
“The only thing that had changed in Dennis’ life, in terms of his health, is that he started drinking this drink,” Elizabeth Crawford said. She’s the attorney representing Brown’s family.
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