Cline et al. v. Publix Supermarkets – Wrongful Death of Child Blamed on Cookie

The plaintiff in Cline et al. v. Publix Supermarkets, Inc. et al. had a son who was severely allergic to nuts. She kept Benadryl and an epinephrine pen with her at all times. She carefully read ingredient labels and always questioned whether cross-contamination may have occurred when obtaining food from restaurants, friends or grocery stores.

Despite all of this, the Alabama woman says her son died of an allergic reaction he suffered after biting into a grocery store cookie that contained walnuts. This was after she says the store employee assured her there were no nuts in the cookie. After taking the cookie home, she even took two bites herself to confirm there were no nuts in it before giving the rest to her son.

However, according to the lawsuit, the boy took three bites before he ran to tell her his mouth was burning. His aunt administered the Benadryl while his mother gave him an epinephrine shot in the thigh. But the boy’s condition continued to worsen. As he lost consciousness, his family called for emergency help. His throat swelled. Emergency workers tried to revive him as they rushed him to the hospital. He did not survive.

His grief-stricken mother now says she has filed the lawsuit for two reasons. The first is increase awareness of just how fatal food allergens can be for children. The second is to make sure grocery store chains – and this one in particular – adheres to federal law that requires labeling of food allergens.

The federal wrongful death lawsuit seeks compensation for mental and emotional distress and suffering as well as punitive damages.

The Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act, passed in 2004, is an amendment to the federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act that requires food labeling to indicate whether the product contains ingredients identified as a “major food allergen.” Prior to the passage of the law, the FDA found a quarter of all manufactured baked goods, candy and ice cream failed to note items like eggs, peanuts or other major allergens.

The act notes eight food allergens: Milk, eggs, fish, Crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. Although more than 160 foods have been identified as possible allergens, those eight foods account for 9 out of 10 documented food allergies in the U.S., and they are the ones most likely to result in life-threatening reactions.

It’s estimated that between 2 and 5 percent of young children and infants suffer from some type of food allergies. Every year, about 30,000 Americans seek emergency medical treatment as a result of reactions to food allergens.

The federal law pertains to both locally manufactured and imported products.

Hundreds of products are recalled every year as a result of failure to properly label possible allergens. Earlier this year, this same grocery store issued a voluntary recall on certain ready-to-cook beef, chicken and pork products because they may contain peanuts not declared on the packaging.

Call Allred & Allred P.C. at 334.396.9200 to speak with a Montgomery personal injury lawyer.

Additional Resources:
Family sues Publix for wrongful death of 11-year-old boy, March 24, 2015, By Tavia D. Green, USA Today
Cline et al. v. Publix Supermarkets, Inc. et al., March 20, 2015, Tennessee Middle District Court
More Blog Entries:
Alabama Supreme Court Weighs Wrongful Death in Lemley v. Wilson, March 22, 2015, Montgomery Injury Lawyer Blog

Contact Information