The Beaverton School District recently agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by the parents of a student who suffered a severe allergic reaction after being served a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
A federal lawsuit filed against the Beaverton School District settled last week when the district agreed to pay $119,500 to the family that sued it. The lawsuit was filed by the parents of a 5-year-old student who argued the district “failed to take proper precautions to protect their child in light of the student’s severe allergies to nut and egg products.”
According to the lawsuit, the child was served a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on her eighth day of kindergarten, “claiming it was OK to eat because it contained sunflower seed butter, which was false.” To make matters worse, after the student ate the sandwich, “the school failed to recognize when the student went into shock, thinking only she was ill and had a fever.” In the end, the child’s father had to rush her to Providence St. Vincent Medical Center. Once there, “she was admitted to the intensive care unit in shock and at risk of organ failure.”
In the lawsuit, the child’s parents, Anna McFaul and Benjamin Vidic argued the incident should never have happened. According to them, before their daughter started kindergarten, they “provided the school nurse with a health management plan informing the school of their daughter’s severe allergies to nuts and egg products.” Additionally, they also provided the school with detailed instructions about the kind of medical treatment she would require in the event of exposure, “including the need for Benadryl and an EpiPen as rescue medications,” according to the lawsuit.
It is important to note that the incident with the peanut butter and jelly sandwich was not the first allergy incident for the child. In fact, on her fourth day of kindergarten, the school cafeteria served her an ‘Ultimate Breakfast Round,’ which is a breakfast bar that contains eggs and nuts. As a result, the child broke out in hives, prompting the school to administer Benadryl. Her father also rushed to the school to monitor her as she recovered. In response to the incident, the school assured the child’s parents that it was an “isolated incident and wouldn’t happen again.” Unfortunately, that was not to be the case, because four days later she was served the peanut butter and jelly sandwich that sent her to the hospital. According to the lawsuit, when she was given the sandwich, she told “staff she couldn’t have peanuts but she was told the sandwich contained only sunflower seed butter.”
Despite agreeing to the settlement, the Beaverton School District has not admitted liability. However, it did agree to “take added measures to ensure its staff are trained to protect students who have severe allergies and can properly respond if a student is suffering an allergic reaction.” Of the $119,500, $71,700 will go to the family and $48,800 will go to cover attorney fees.