Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. is representing the family of Avery Gilbert, a student and football player at Trinity International University who died after having an allergic reaction to the food he consumed at a dining hall at the university. The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the food was mislabeled and cross-contacted, ultimately leading to the young athlete’s death.
The community is outraged at the preventable death of the 18-year-old who had just made it to campus three days before his untimely death on August 10, 2022. The death has garnered the attention of local news media and served as the catalyst for a tribute to the young athlete by the Trinity International University Athletics Department and the football team dedicating its 2022 season to the athlete and his jersey number #87.
On the fateful day of Gilbert’s death, Avery had just sat down with some of his teammates to consume a meal at the dining hall. He had selected a chicken dish that was labeled as “Contains no allergens.” Furthermore, Avery was sitting in an area called “The Zone: An Allergen Sensitive Area” which was supposed to be free from allergens. Tragically, the food Avery consumed had been cross-contaminated with fish proteins, an allergen known to cause a fatal allergic reaction in some cases. Avery had an allergy to fish. However, Avery was unaware he had consumed this highly allergic protein because the food he selected and consumed was mislabeled.
Within minutes of consuming the mislabeled food, he suffered from an allergic reaction. He headed to his dormitory room, which witnesses believe was to retrieve anti-allergen medication. His dorm room was only 100 yards away. He called a friend to report the allergic reaction and called 911, but he was in distress and unable to explain to the 911 operator what had happened. The 911 call contains several inaudible moments when Avery is clearly suffering from a severe allergic reaction and was unable to communicate, and was barely able to breathe. Paramedics arrived at the scene just a few minutes later. Despite lifesaving efforts, multiple rounds of CPR, and medication, Avery was not able to be revived and was pronounced dead at Highland Park Hospital.
Pictures taken by a responding officer to the scene show the food was clearly marked as “No allergens.”
The defendants named in the suit are Trinity International University and Creative Dining Services, Inc. The lawsuit alleges negligence in causing the wrongful death and conscious pain and suffering of Avery until he succumbed to his injuries on the part of the defendants who “undertook to prepare, serve, and sell food, and further undertook to warn of food allergens in the food.” The lawsuit alleges that the defendants had a duty to separate food known to have allergies from food that was not and to clearly label the two categories of food. Had the defendants properly handled this responsibility, Avery would still be alive.
Rapoport Weisberg & Sims P.C. is representing Ithran Mitchell and Rosetta Gilbert-Gamble, the parents and administrators of Avery’s estate in the wrongful death and survival action.
While the firm’s attorneys are pursuing compensation for the family, they recognize that no amount of money can ever bring back Avery or make up for the tragic loss of such a young person with such promise for the future. The family hopes to shed light on the failures that led to the loss of their loved one and wants to prevent any other family from having to go through the same tragic ordeal.