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Lawsuits

Is Giving Peanuts to a Kid with Nut Allergies an Act of Violence?

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Thu, Mar 17, 2011 at 1:50 PM
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It seems like every kid these days has a nut allergy. And parents are freaking out, rearranging birthday parties and sleep-overs to accommodate the ones stricken with this particular food allergy.

But what if someone does give your child a nut, or a peanut butter cracker or cookie?

Is that an act of violence?

According to a recent California federal court ruling, the answer is no.

The case began when Lawrence and Darlene McCue approached their son's school, South Fork Elementary in Weldon, roughly 160 miles north of LA, about their kid's nut allergies, asking that teachers accommodate his special needs.

At first, the school agreed to let the child sit at a nut-free table in the cafeteria during lunch, but later told the parents that they couldn't keep it up and offered to let the student eat his food in an office to keep him safe.

According to the recent court ruling, first reported by Courthouse News Service, the McCunes continually asked that the school stop serving nut-products altogether, but the school refused. Then one day, while out on the playground, someone at the school served up a batch of peanut butter cookies.

The McCune boy had a bite, and then he had an allergic reaction, sending him to the hospital.

The family then decided to sue the school, claiming that it failed to make accommodations for their son and that the principal "threatened to harm" the child by refusing to keep him in a nut-free environment as a way to stop the McCunes from repeatedly requesting accommodations for their boy.

It would, however, prove to be a losing battle.

"Serving a child a peanut butter cookie is not an inherently violent act," ruled U.S. District Judge Oliver W. Wanger.

In the end, he concluded that there was no evidence that anyone at the school threatened to intentionally give the student nut products, and that the "refusal of school administrators to abolish all nut products from a school's campus is not the type of statement that would reasonably tend to produce fear of violence in an ordinary listener."

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