When you go out to eat, you generally expect that your food will be fresh, appealing, and delicious. You would never expect your food to be potentially life-threatening to you or anyone in your family. Unfortunately, for one family in Natick, Massachusetts, this was their reality one harrowing evening.
The Russo family decided one evening to order take-out from Panera, a popular café style restaurant. The restaurant offers a convenient online order and carry out service, which the Russo family used to get their dinner that night. The Russo family's daughter, unnamed in the news story, has a severe peanut allergy. This life-threatening condition has been repeatedly stressed by the Russo family at nearly every restaurant they patronize. They made sure to make a note of the peanut allergy when they submitted their online order form to Panera that night.
What happened when they got their food shocked both them and their daughter. The family ordered a grilled cheese sandwich. The sandwich has simple ingredients: bread, butter, and cheese. One ingredient that is not a part of a grilled cheese sandwich is peanut butter. Yet, when the Russo family sat down for dinner, their daughter began exhibiting signs of an allergic reaction. A closer inspection of her sandwich revealed that there was a large dollop of peanut butter in the center of her sandwich.
The Russo family immediately took their daughter to a local pediatrician who recommended hospital care upon seeing the girl vomit. She ended up being admitted for an overnight stay after a dosage of epinephrine to stop the reaction.
The Family Takes Legal Action
The Russo family has since brought a lawsuit against Panera for their negligence. John Russo, the father, phoned into Panera that night to speak with staff about the evening's disaster. He was met with a manager who apologized but attempted to blame the problem on a language barrier. Russo did not see this as plausible as his online order said "peanut allergy" twice, and the word for "allergy" in both Spanish and Portuguese is "alergia."
A spokesperson for Panera came forward and reminded the public that there is always a possibility of cross-contamination. However, the sandwich delivered to the Russo family had about two tablespoons of peanut butter, demonstrated by a picture that is shown in the news report, making it unlikely that it came from the use of another kitchen tool or machine (the most common sources of cross contamination).
This is not the first time a family has had this sort of experience at a Panera. A nearby town has also been the site of one family's peanut allergy peril. A family in Wayland, MA made an online order as well, which also resulted in a severe allergic reaction.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of negligence, contact attorneys Gilman & Bedigian today.