Family sues Publix, claims wrongful death of child

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

Publix corporation is facing a wrongful death lawsuit in the June 2014 allergy related death of a Shelby County child. The family of Derek Landon Wood filed the lawsuit against the national grocery chain in federal court in Nashville, Tenn., on March 20.

According to court documents, 11-year-old Wood died of anaphylactic shock after consuming a Chocolate Chew cookie from a Publix grocery store in Clarksville, Tenn.

Wood lived with his grandparents in Sterrett. He was with his mother, Beth Cline, visiting his aunt in Tennessee at the time of his death.

Wood had a known tree nut allergy, and according to court documents, a Publix employee “affirmatively said the Chocolate Chew contained no tree nut ingredients,” when asked by Cline. Additionally, “there was no signage at or behind or near the counter warning of allergens or for the potential of cross-contamination in allergens,” the documents claimed.

“Relying on this representation, Beth bought a Chocolate Chew for Landon,” court documents read.

Shortly after consuming the Chocolate Chew, Wood experienced a severe allergic reaction. Several hours later, he was pronounced dead from anaphylactic shock.

“Our thoughts are with the family over the loss of their child,” Publix Media and Community Relations Manager Brenda Reid wrote in a March 25 email.

Although Reid declined comment on the pending litigation, she noted “we do post allergen information in our bakeries.”

Cline, along with Wood’s grandfather and aunt, filed the lawsuit seeking “the award of punitive damages in an amount to be determined by the jury.”

“The actions of Publix in this regard were reckless, grossly negligent and deliberately indifferent,” the lawsuit read.

Attorneys for both Wood’s family and Publix are scheduled to meet in Nashville for a case management conference on June 8 at 3 p.m.