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Lawsuit After Girl Dies From Peanuts In Chinese Food

UPDATED 03/18/11 5:51 a.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) - The family of a Chicago Public Schools student, who died last year after suffering an allergic reaction to peanuts at her school, is suing the Chinese restaurant that supplied the food.

Thomas A. Edison Regional Gifted Center student Katelyn Carlson, 13, died after eating peanuts inside food her seventh grade teacher ordered from Chinese Inn Restaurant for a Dec. 17, 2010, class holiday party, according to a suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court.

The suit claims the teacher told an employee of the Chinese Inn Restaurant the food was for a class party and students in the class had peanut allergies and the restaurant agreed to provide food that was free of peanut oils, peanut derivatives and peanut flavorings.

But officials said in January that the food might have been cooked in peanut oil, despite the teacher's instructions.

Carlson was pronounced dead at 5:40 p.m. Dec. 17, 2010, at Children's Memorial Hospital, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office. An autopsy determined she died from anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction) to food allergy and her death was ruled an accident.

The suit claims Chinese Inn Restaurant, at 7505 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Niles, provided food containing peanuts or peanut products, carelessly prepared the food and failed to warn the purchasers of food not capable of being prepared free from peanut products.

A woman who answered the phone at the restaurant Thursday night said nobody was available to comment.

The three-count suit, filed Thursday by Katelyn Carlson's father, Micahel Carlson Jr., is seeking more than $100,000 from the Chinese Inn Restaurant and owner Xiang Zhong Mei.

Following Carlson's death, Edison Gifted School principal Saundra Gray said her campus at 4929 N. Sawyer Ave. "will no longer have any peanuts in the environment."

She said in January that "a food service provider for Edison has picked up all the food containing peanuts so it will no longer be a choice on our menu," and also instructed parents not to pack any lunches containing peanut products for their students.

The peanut free environment also applies to the sister school, Albany Park Multicultural Academy, on the same campus.

Chicago School Board spokesman Monique Bond said in January, "Some of our schools are peanut free zones, but there is no policy in place to make all schools mandatory peanut free zones."

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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