Families File Suits After Losing Sons to Anaphylaxis

in Food Allergy
Published: March 24, 2015
Scott2Scott Johnson and his father via GoFundMe

Posted March, 2015 – Two families have launched lawsuits after losing their sons to anaphylaxis.

In the first case, the parents of 16-year-old Scott Johnson, who died from an anaphylactic reaction to pancakes that turned out not to be dairy-free, are suing the restaurant that served him.

In June 2014, the Minnesota teen – who had lived with dairy allergy since childhood and had experienced serious reactions previously – went out with his mother and sisters to the Minnesota Nice Café. The family had visited the small comfort-food restaurant in Bemidji, Minn. in past.

According to the lawsuit, Scott’s mother, Cindy, asked the staff if the restaurant’s gluten-free pancakes could be made dairy-free. She says the staff gave assurances they could be, and that she also reminded the cook that the grill would need to be cleaned before preparing her son’s meal.

The two pancakes that Scott ate that day would be his last meal. Scott knew something was wrong immediately after he stopped eating, Cindy told the local CBS affiliate. He did not have his epinephrine auto-injector with him so the family rushed home, but by then his symptoms had progressed.

Scott was airlifted from Bemidji to a hospital in Fargo, and died from heart failure related to the severe reaction three days later.

Scott’s grieving parents file suit in part to have the restaurant claim responsibility for the tragic incident and pay for the medical bills that resulted, reported the Daily Mail.

LandonWoodDerek Landon Wood via Dignity Memorial

The second lawsuit was filed by a family in Alabama who lost their 11-year-old son due to a severe reaction to a supermarket cookie.

According to the lawsuit, Derek Landon Wood, who had food allergies since age 4, purchased a “Chocolate Chew” cookie last June from a Publix supermarket in Clarksville, Tenn. after being assured by a store associate that the cookie did not contain tree nuts.

In the suit, his mother, Beth Cline, says after returning to his relatives’ home (whom they were visiting), Landon had a few bites of the cookie, and his mouth began to burn. The cookie turned out to contain walnuts.

Landon, who was from Sterrett, Alabama, was given Benadryl first and then and his mother administered his epinephrine auto-injector and 911 was called. Unfortunately, his condition worsened and by the time the young boy was airlifted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, he could not be resuscitated.

“The purpose of the lawsuit is to raise awareness of the potential lethal threat posed by food allergens, force Publix to comply with the Federal Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, and to obtain some measure of compensation for the grieving family,” Eddie Schmidt, the family’s lawyer, told Allergic Living in an email.

The family is seeking compensation for the mental and emotional distress and suffering that resulted from the Landon’s death as well as punitive damages to be determined by the jury, reported USA Today.

Both Minnesota Nice Café owners and Publix Super Markets Inc. declined to on these lawsuits since they are still ongoing.

Allergic Living’s staff sends our deepest condolences to both families. We also remind readers to please always carry two auto-injectors and administer epinephrine for all serious allergic reactions.