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Lawsuit filed in the death of dancer with a peanut allergy who died after eating mislabelled cookie

Stew Leonard's store in Newington, Conn., is shown Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Stephen Dunn) Stew Leonard's store in Newington, Conn., is shown Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024. (AP Photo/Stephen Dunn)
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The estate of a young dancer who died after eating a mislabelled cookie containing peanuts has filed a wrongful death lawsuit, claiming the failure to properly label the package was grossly negligent.

Órla Ruth Baxendale, 25, died Jan. 11 after eating a Florentine cookie sold by grocery retailer Stew Leonard's and suffering an anaphylactic reaction, according to the lawsuit. Baxendale, who had a severe peanut allergy, had moved to New York City from England to pursue a career as a dancer and was in “the prime of her life,” according to the lawsuit filed Thursday in Superior Court in Waterbury.

The batch of holiday cookies sold at Stew Leonard’s stores in Danbury and Newington in Connecticut late last year were later recalled. The cookies were produced by the Long Island-based wholesaler Cookies United and labelled with the Stew Leonard’s brand name, state officials said.

Both companies are named in the lawsuit, along with several Stew Leonard’s employees.

Failure to properly label the cookie package prior to sale “was grossly negligent, intentional, reckless, callous, indifferent to human life, and a wanton violation as the manufacturer and seller were required under the law to properly declare the ingredients,” according to the lawsuit.

A spokesperson for Stew Leonard’s said they could not comment on pending litigation.

The general counsel for Cookies United did not respond to an email seeking comment Friday evening.

Stew Leonard's said in January that the supplier went from soy nuts to peanuts in the recipe without notifying their chief safety officer.

Cookies United had said they notified Stew Leonard’s last July that the product contained peanuts and that all products shipped to the retailer had been labelled accordingly.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary and punitive damages.

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