Women sues Babies-R-Us after peanut allergy incident

The News Leader

February 17, 2010 2:35:46 PM PST
A Long Island woman has filed a lawsuit against Babies-R-Us after she says the popular retailer put her health at risk because they didn't listen to her concerns about her potentially dangerous peanut allergy. Monique Thomas never dreamed that working a baby store would be bad for her health. But the 22-year-old raised a red flag three years ago when she was assigned to work the cash register where candy was sold.

"I cannot smell it," she said. "I'm not able to smell it, and if I do, I could die."

But Thomas says Babies-R-Us did sell peanuts, and they were too close for comfort. She originally worked in the furniture department and begged management to stay there.

"The store told her if she didn't want to continue to work at the register, then she didn't have to work," attorney Kenneth Mollins said. "Basically, they threatened her with her job."

Last February, her concerns turned into a frightening reality when a customer checking out began eating a candy containing peanuts. Thomas was rushed to the hospital and put in the intensive care unit in severe anaphylactic shock.

"It was really scary for me, because I couldn't breathe," she said. "And not being able to breathe, you don't know what to do. Because it's so little time, and the doctor said, you know, your throat closed up smaller than a straw."

Dr. Marie Cavuoto, an allergy specialist, says people can have severe reactions when in a close proximity.

"You're in a confined area, and if there is someone who is allergic to peanuts, and there's any either air or touch contact with the peanut protein, the reaction can be deadly," she said.

Thomas is now suing Babies-R-Us for $3 million in damages. Her lawyer says the store was required by law to accommodate her disability. Babies-R-Us declined to comment.