Family Sues Stew Leonard’s Over Dancer’s Peanut Allergy Death – Lawsuit Details Revealed

Stamford, Connecticut – The family of a young professional dancer who tragically passed away after consuming a mislabeled cookie from Stew Leonard’s is seeking justice through legal action. Órla Baxendale, a 25-year-old dancer, went into anaphylactic shock on January 11 while rehearsing in Connecticut due to a severe allergic reaction to a Vanilla Florentine cookie sold by the popular grocery chain.

The lawsuit, filed by Baxendale’s mother, alleges that the supermarket failed to properly label the cookie packaging with allergen information, leading to the fatal incident. The family is pursuing damages exceeding $15,000, along with additional monetary and punitive damages determined by the court.

According to the lawsuit, Stew Leonard’s and several employees neglected to update the ingredient labels on the cookies despite receiving a notification from the manufacturer, Cookies United LLC, in July 2023, indicating that the product now contained peanuts. This oversight resulted in Baxendale, who had a severe peanut allergy, consuming the cookie and suffering a severe allergic reaction that ultimately claimed her life.

Furthermore, the lawsuit argues that the chain’s failure to recall products with incorrect or incomplete labels after Baxendale’s death highlights a systemic issue of negligence and disregard for consumer safety within the grocery chain. Stew Leonard Jr., president and CEO of the company, acknowledged responsibility for Baxendale’s death in a video statement issued on January 24.

The legal action also holds Cookies United LLC accountable for manufacturing, packaging, and selling the contaminated product to Stew Leonard’s without adequate allergen labeling. Public officials have publicly criticized both the grocery store and the manufacturer for their role in Baxendale’s tragic death, emphasizing the importance of accurate food labeling to prevent future incidents.

Stew Leonard’s and Cookies United LLC are accused of violating state and federal regulations by failing to ensure that the Vanilla Florentine cookies were properly labeled. Despite requests for comments, a representative for Stew Leonard’s declined to respond to inquiries, while Cookies United did not provide an immediate comment to the media.

Órla Baxendale, originally from Manchester, England, moved to New York City in 2018 to study on a scholarship at the Ailey School. She had a promising career in the arts, having performed at New York Fashion Week and participated in productions at Lincoln Center.