Actor’s family awarded $29m in damages after allergic reaction to pretzel left her quadriplegic

‘Every minute of Chantel’s life has been inextricably altered’

Louise Hall
Monday 12 April 2021 15:08 BST
<p>Chantel Giacalone attends <em>Skyler</em> Premiere at Laemmle Music Hall during the 2011 LA Film and Music Weekend Festival on 25 March, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California</p>

Chantel Giacalone attends Skyler Premiere at Laemmle Music Hall during the 2011 LA Film and Music Weekend Festival on 25 March, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California

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The family of an aspiring actor has been awarded $29.5 million in damages after the young woman was left brain-damaged following treatment for a severe allergic reaction.

Chantel Giacalone, 35, went into anaphylactic shock after biting into a pretzel infused with peanut butter while in Las Vegas for a convention in 2013, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

Ms Giacalone’s lawyer, Christian Morris, had argued in the civil lawsuit that the ambulance service running the medical station on the day, MedicWest Ambulance, negligently treated her allergic reaction.

Ms Morris said Ms Giacalone lost oxygen to her brain for a period of minutes after seeking help and argued neither of the two medics on-site that day had the appropriate treatment for severe allergic reactions.

Instead of IV epinephrine a drug required for full anaphylaxis, medics deployed intramuscular epinephrine. IVs are required by the Southern Nevada Health District, The Review-Journal reported.

Testimony during a three-week trial reportedly revealed that the requirement was established by a task force the company sits on.

Ms Giacalone was left quadriplegic following the incident, and now has to be fed through a tube and can only communicate with her eyes, according to the newspaper.

MedicWest denied any wrongdoing in the suit and said the outcome was inevitable because of Ms Giacalone’s heightened sensitivity to peanuts. They maintained that Ms Giacalone never lost consciousness in the care of its medics.

“Every minute of Chantel’s life has been inextricably altered,” Ms Morris said in closing arguments on Thursday. “Every single minute since she walked into that medic room to a company that chose profits over patient care.”

As an actor, Ms Giacalone appeared in productions such as The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations in 2009, Skyler in 2012, and Hollow Walls in 2015.

“At least my daughter will be taken care of. I’m happy about that,” Ms Giacalone’s father, Jack Giacalone, who provides 24-hour care for his daughter alongside his wife, said after the verdict was read on Friday.

“All the anguish that we’ve been through for the last eight years, I’m not happy about. I just hope MedicWest changes their ways.”

He added: “The truth came out. Because what happened in that room was nothing. They let my daughter linger.”

Additional reporting by the Associated Press

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