Society

Parents Sue Restaurant After Boy Dies From Its Pancakes

| by Michael Howard
Scott JohnsonScott Johnson

A family in Minnesota is suing a restaurant after a 16-year-old boy died from an allergic reaction.

Scott Johnson had a severe allergy to dairy products. Even trace amounts were enough to put his life in danger. As such, he and his family were careful about where they ate.

"Every time I would pick something up, when I was shopping with my parents, I'd look at the label and be like, 'Can Scott have this?'" Scott's sister Jaris told KCPQ.

One morning Scott, his sisters and his mother went to have breakfast at the Minnesota Nice Cafe in Bemidji.

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"We didn’t have to wait for a table," mother Cindy Johnson said. "They knew us by name."

According to the lawsuit, Cindy was told by a server that the restaurant's pancakes did not contain any dairy. Scott then ate two pancakes. Immediately after finishing, he knew something was wrong.

"He had just finished and he said, 'We have to go now,'" Cindy recalled.

Scott had neglected to bring his EpiPen and nebulizer with him to the restaurant, so the Johnson's rushed home to get them. But they were unable to neutralize the reaction, and Scott was airlifted to a hospital.

Scott's father, Steve, was at work on a construction site when he got the call.

"Hardest thing for me was I didn’t even get to talk to him," he said.

Scott died three days later. Doctors said the cause of death was severe anaphylactic reaction, which had led to heart failure.

"I miss him just as much today as the day after," Cindy said.

"Sixteen years. That's too short," Steve said.

They hope that by sharing Scott's story they will help save the lives of others with similar conditions.

"Ask questions," Steve said. "If you're not sure, don't do it."

"Just one mistake can take someone's life," Cindy added.

In Minnesota, approximately 60,000 children have food allergies, according to WCCO. Restaurants are reportedly not required to make special accommodations because not all workers get food-allergen training.

Roughly 200 people die every year in the U.S. from food allergies.

Sources: KCPQ, WCCO / Photo credit: Johnson family via  WCCO

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