Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What if a loved one dies from the injuries sustained in a serious accident while the case is pending?”
A family whose eleven-year-old son passed away last year after eating a chocolate-chip cookie from a Publix Super Market in Clarksville, Tennessee is suing the grocery chain seeking unspecified damages, according to the Daily Mail.
The boy—Derek Landon Wood—was allergic to tree nuts. His mother only bought the cookie after a Publix bakery worker assured her that it was safe to eat, according to the lawsuit. Wood’s family argues in legal pleadings that the bakery should have posted “warnings about ingredients or possible cross-contamination,” the Daily Mail reports.
After Wood ate the cookie, he went into anaphylactic shock and later died.
In the lawsuit, the Wood family alleges that Publix violated the Food Allergen Labelling and Consumer Protection Act by failing to identify potential allergens in baked goods. A spokeswoman for Publix could not comment on the lawsuit but said the grocery chain was “very sorry about the loss of this young man,” according to the Birmingham News.
While rare, the numbers of food-allergy deaths and food-allergy-related lawsuits have spiked in recent years. In a 2013 study, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claimed that food allergies in children increased by fifty-percent between 1997 and 2011. “Hospital admissions for severe reactions in children have risen seven-fold over the past decade,” according to Food Allergy Research & Education, citing a study conducted by the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. Researchers have been unable to explain why the increase in food allergens is occurring.
In 2011, the family of a thirteen-year-old Chicago girl sued a Chinese Inn restaurant that provided food for a class party at the girl’s school. The girl’s teacher told an employee at the restaurant that students in the class had peanut allergies, “and the restaurant agreed to provide food that was free of peanut oils, peanut derivatives and peanut flavorings,” according to CBS Chicago. Officials later determined, however, that despite the teacher’s warnings, the food may have been cooked in peanut oil anyway.
The girl—Katelyn Carlson—died after eating some of the food.
Carlson’s family also named the Board of Education of the City of Chicago as a defendant in the lawsuit. In 2012, the school board’s general counsel recommended settling with the Carlsons for $3,000,000. Chicago Public Schools have since declared public schools in the city to be “peanut free zones.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that most schools—about 88-percent—have at least one student with a food allergy. The agency has promulgated voluntary guidelines for managing food allergies in schools.
If you or someone you know has any questions regarding potential personal injury claims, feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina for a free consultation. Call toll free at (955) 370-2828 or click here for additional resources.
About the Author
Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.
Mr. Arnold was born and raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.
A board-certified specialist in the practice of Family Law, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state courts in North Carolina, in the United States Federal Court for the Western District of North Carolina, in the North Carolina Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and in the Fourth Circuit United States Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.
In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.
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