Did Panera Ignore Warning About Little Girl’s Peanut Allergy…Lawsuit Says ‘Yes’

peanuts allergy2

*There is a really scary commercial running right now. I can’t even recall the product that the actual commercial is about (not surprising, as the viewing audience generally gets more involved in the backstory than the product its supposed to be selling). But this particular commercial shows a group of friends at a party. When all of a sudden, a panicked woman calls out, “There weren’t peanuts in the brownies right?” Then an apologetic party host responds, “No. Just Peanut Butter. Oh no, I’m sorry,” after she realizes her horrible error. Cut to a woman covered in red hives, before passing out. Now Panera Bread, the sandwich restaurant, is in the same situation. According to the family of a little girl with peanut allergies, the restaurant put a whop of peanut butter in her grilled cheese sandwich.

Allegedly, even after they were told not to.

The family of the 6-year-old Natick girl has now filed a lawsuit with Middlesex Superior Court against Panera and a group of their franchises in New England alleging negligence. The parents say they ordered the sandwich on January 28 via Panera’s online system, and specifically stated their daughter’s peanut allergy. 

John Russo, of Natick, with his daughter.

John Russo and his wife, Elissa, had learned of their daughter’s allergy when she was diagnosed at 18-months and ever since, have been vigilant in letting restaurants know about it.

Russo says this is what made the incident so shocking to them. The court complaint charges that the restaurant “engaged in unfair and deceptive business practices by adding peanut butter to the plaintiff’s grilled cheese sandwich knowing that [she] has a life-threatening peanut allergy.”

The little girl’s dad had just come home from his job at Boston Scientific on the winter night that the incident happened. Both he and his wife realized what had happened after their little girl bit into her grilled cheese sandwich, and saw that it contained a blob of peanut butter. See photo below.


Elissa rushed to call the pediatrician, and their daughter, by now panicking asked, “Am I going to die?”

RELATED: Allergic Girl Who Died at Achool Got Peanut From Another Child

Since she wasn’t showing serious symptoms, the family was advised to give her Benadryl.

But then she vomited, and the pediatrician told them to get her to the hospital right away. Elissa took the girl to Newton-Wellesley Hospital while John stayed home with their 2-year-old daughter.

Elissa texted her husband from the hospital at 10:15 pm saying their daughter was about to be discharged. But that was before the little girl broke out into hives (just like the woman in the commercial).

After all was said and done, the little girl had spent the night in the hospital and went home the next day.

A manager from Panera’s Natick location is said to have apologized profusely. But after hearing the excuse they offered, well, suffice it to say…

The parents ain’t buying it.

Read more here. And watch the TV commercial that I mentioned earlier directly below.

“Every 6 minutes life threatening food allergies sends someone to the hospital,” the ad starts…

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