Court Decides School Not Liable For Offering Cookie to Allergic Child

In California, a federal judge recently ruled that serving a peanut butter cookie to a child was not a violent act. The ruling came after the child's parents filed a civil rights case, arguing that the child's elementary school hurt their son by failing to protect him from allergies.

U.S. District Judge Oliver Wanger ruled that the school, located in rural California, did not intentionally harm the son of Lawrence and Darlene McCue by not keeping him in a nut-free environment even though he is allergic to nuts.

The McCues argued that the principal of the school, Robin Shive, harmed their son by refusing to ban nuts and products containing nuts from the school grounds. In doing so, they said, she failed to adequately accomodate their son's peanut allergy. According to the McCues, the principal initially said their son would need to eat at a nut-free lunch table. Then, the McCues say, Shive said he would have to eat his lunch in the school's office, away from other children.

Neither of these approaches was able to protect him from allergies. On February 28, 2008, he was sent to the hospital after eating a peanut butter cookie he received at a school event.

This allergic reaction led the McCues to file a civil rights lawsuit, alleging that Shive and other school officials had tried to harm their son by refusing to prohibit nuts in the school. In his ruling, Judge Wanger found no proof that they had tried to intentionally harm the McCues' son or infringe upon his constitutional rights.

"A refusal by 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 in an ordinary listener," Wanger wrote. He also noted that there was no evidence that anyone had threatened to intentionally expose the McCues' son to nuts, or that the cookie came from someone who knew about the boy's allergy.

Do schools have a responsibility to protect children with peanut allergies from products containing peanuts? What do you think?

Read more about this case: http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/03/15/34944.htm

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