BEMIDJI, Minn. – A Minnesota family has filed a lawsuit against a restaurant for what they call a ‘fatal mistake.’
“He could light up a room,” Cindy Johnson said.
Scott Johnson was known for his bright smile and adventurous attitude.
He also suffered from a severe dairy allergy since birth.
“Things that you wouldn’t even imagine have dairy in them,” said Cindy Johnson, Scott’s mother.
Small traces of dairy would be enough to send him to the emergency room.
The family says eating at a restaurant became rare and would always be done with caution.
“If it wasn’t right, we didn’t eat until his was right,” said Steve Johnson, Scott’s father.
Last June, Scott’s sisters wanted to treat their mom and brother to breakfast at a cafe.
“We didn’t have to wait for a table. They knew us by name,” Cindy said.
According to court documents, Cindy asked the server if the restaurant’s gluten-free pancakes were also dairy free.
After checking with the cook, the server said they were.
Cindy says she told the server that the restaurant’s grill would have to be cleaned before her son’s pancakes were made.
Scott ate two pancakes and everyone thought they were fine.
“He had just finished and he said, ‘We have to go now,” Cindy said.
Scott forgot to bring his epipen and nebulizer to the restaurant, which were both used to open his lungs and help him through an allergic reaction.
The family got home, but the medications were not working.
“I was 18 miles off the highway when I got the call,” said Steve Johnson.
Two hours away, Steve got word that his son was being airlifted to a hospital.
“Hardest thing for me was I didn’t even get to talk to him,” he said.
Doctors told his parents that Scott had suffered such a severe anaphylactic reaction that his heart had failed.
Scott died three days later.
“16 years, that’s too short,” Steve said.
“I miss him just as much today as the day after,” Cindy said.
The family is now sharing their story to hope that it will prevent other deadly mistakes from happening.
“Just one mistake can take someone’s life,” Cindy said.