Lawsuits in Amarria Johnson Peanut Allergy Death are Settled

in Food Allergy, Food Allergy News, Peanut & Tree Nut
Published: September 17, 2015

welcome AmarriaLaura Pendleton with her daughter Amarria as the girl began school.
Two lawsuits filed by the mother of Amarria Johnson, the 7-year-old Virginia girl who died from eating a single peanut at school recess, appear to have been settled as of September 2015.

Amarria’s mother, Laura Pendleton, had filed a wrongful death suit against Chesterfield County, Virginia, where the school her daughter attended is located, and against school officials, citing negligence in the handling of the child’s anaphylactic emergency.

Pendleton also filed a defamation lawsuit, alleging that the county school superintendent and other school officials had slandered her by inferring that she had not provided proper medical information and medications for her peanut-allergic daughter.

The mother, a practical nurse by profession, contends she had, in fact, done so. In court documents, she said she was left not only grieving, but feeling characterized as “a bad mother” in some media coverage.

Child’s Death Sparked Advocacy

A journalist with the NBC TV station in Richmond, Virginia reported on Sept. 9, 2015 that she discovered documents that show the county has now settled both suits. A spokesman for the county acknowledged the wrongful death settlement to the Richmond Times-Dispatch newspaper, but wouldn’t comment on it. That suit had been scheduled for trial by jury in October 2015.

Pendleton’s lawyer would also not comment on the terms of the settlement. Pendleton had been seeking $10 million in the wrongful death suit, but settlement amounts can be significantly less than what was sought.

Amarria’s death in January 2012 was the tragedy that sparked the advocacy work for stock epinephrine auto-injectors – in which states pass laws allowing schools to maintain epinephrine auto-injectors, allowing them to be used in case of an anaphylactic emergency even if a student isn’t prescribed the device, and ensuring adequate training on when to use the device. Virginia passed one of the first such laws, dubbed Amarria’s Law, in 2012.

As he signed that bill into law, former governor Robert McDonnell praised Pendleton for advocating for the legislation despite her grief.

See also: Allergic Living’s “Call-to-Action” Essay: Time to End Food Allergy Tragedies