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Mislabeled Cookie Leads to Fatal Anaphylactic Shock for 11-Year-Old

May 15, 2015

Eleven-year-old Landon Wood had no idea that a cookie purchased at a Publix Super Market would trigger his severe nut allergy, causing him to go into anaphylactic shock and die.

The Wood family were on a trip to visit Landon’s aunt in Clarksville, Tenn. His mother, Beth Cline, always made sure to carry an EpiPen with her as an emergency response to her son’s allergy. During their trip, they went shopping at a local Publix Super Market, complete with a bakery counter loaded with all kinds of enticing goodies, including muffins, pastries, cookies and brownies.

None of the products had warning labels on them relating to allergens possibly being present in the baking, nor were there any signs suggesting there may be issues with the cross-contamination of products produced in the presence of nuts. Landon asked for a cookie and his mother checked with the employee behind the bakery counter about the contents and exposure to contaminants of the baked treats. The store employee stated their “Chocolate Chew” cookie did not contain tree nut allergens. The label on the cookie also carried no such information.

When the family had returned home to their aunt’s house, Beth Cline took a bite of the cookie to test it first. She did not detect the presence of any nuts and gave it to her son to eat. Three bites later he insisted there was something in it because his mouth had started to burn. As it turned out, the Chocolate Chew did contain walnuts.

Even though Landon’s mother promptly administered his EpiPen, his condition worsened and he lost consciousness. Medical staff was unable to revive him at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and Landon passed away on June 3, 2014. Publix offered the family their deepest condolences for the loss of Landon. The family decided to file a wrongful death lawsuit, not to garner financial reward, but to attempt to raise awareness of how deadly food allergies can be in children and others with similar issues.
The statement of claim for the lawsuit does suggest Publix needs to be following federal food labelling laws relating to food allergens.

The sudden death of their son and the medical, funeral and burial expenses would be difficult for the family to handle all at once, in conjunction with their usual financial obligations. In their situation, applying for litigation funding, an emergency cash lawsuit loan that allows plaintiffs in difficult financial circumstances to pay their pressing necessity bills right away, might provide some financial support. Any cash left over after all vital and usual expenses have been paid may be kept to use while waiting for the case to be settled or until it goes to trial.

Plaintiffs only need to have an attorney of record to contact a litigation finance company and discuss applying for pre-settlement funding. It is a user-friendly system with no requirement of a credit check, employment verification or any payment upfront or during the duration of the lawsuit loan. Should they lose their case in court, the plaintiffs retain the pre-settlement funding, with zero strings attached.

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