Fatal Chesterfield peanut allergy lawsuits are settled out of court

Published: Sep. 9, 2015 at 6:53 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 19, 2015 at 10:03 PM EDT
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CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - A family settled two lawsuits after a young Chesterfield girl died at school from a peanut allergy.

7-year-old Amarria Johnson died after eating a peanut on the playground of Hopkins Elementary in January 2012. Videos and pictures are all that are left of her.

The attorney for Johnson's mother says he can't comment on the case at this time, but NBC12 discovered documents in both the Chesterfield and Richmond courthouses, which indicate the case is coming to a close.

"I'm angry and I don't know who to be angry with at this point," her mother Laura Pendleton told NBC12 at shortly after her death. "My main concern is what happened after she was exposed."

Pendleton filed a wrongful death suit against the school nurse and a clinic aide saying Amarria had a known peanut allergy and medical plan established with the school.

NBC12 discovered documentation in the Chesterfield Circuit Court filed just last week, saying the matter has been settled. That means the case will not go to trial, but NBC12 Legal Expert Steve Benjamin says that settlement will still have to go through an approval hearing.

"Because it involves a death alleged to be of wrongful conduct, the law requires that a circuit court judge approves the terms of the settlement," Benjamin says.

Pendleton also filed suit against six-school leaders, including Chesterfield County Schools Superintendent Marcus Newsome, saying they slandered her and her parenting. That case has also been settled.

However, existing court documents do not show if the settlements involve money or if there is a confidentiality agreement in place.

"One of the problems with confidentiality requirements is that it avoids public scrutiny or the scrutiny of regulators for example," Benjamin says. "Although very, very popular, it's not necessarily a good thing in the legal system."

Chesterfield County declined to comment on the settlement.

NBC12 also reached out to school leaders and we are still waiting to hear back from them.

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