Family of Model Left Brain-Damaged After Eating Peanut-Butter Pretzel Is Awarded $29.5M

Chantel Giacalone
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Chantel Giacalone, 31, was modeling clothes at a fashion trade show at the Mandalay Bay South Convention Center in 2013 when her friend bought her frozen yogurt and put a bite-size pretzel on top.

Chantel Giacalone was a model and aspiring actress when she suffered brain damage after eating a peanut-butter pretzel. MedicWest Ambulance, the ambulance service that treated Giacalone, who is now a quadriplegic, were found to be negligent in treating her. A Las Vegas court has now awarded Chantel and her family $29.5 million, the Associated Press reported.

The ordeal took place on Feb. 20, 2013, Giacalone was 27 at the time. She was modeling clothes at a fashion trade show at Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay South Convention Center when her friend had bought her frozen yogurt and put a bite-size pretzel on top. After ingesting the pretzel, Chantel went into an anaphylactic shock, the New York Post reported

Christian Morris, the family’s attorney, said Chantel had lost oxygen to her brain for a period of minutes after seeking treatment from MedicWest Ambulance, a published report said.

During a three-week civil suit, Morris argued that neither of the two medics from MedicWest Ambulance had IV epinephrine, an adrenaline treatment for severe allergic reactions, that the medic company was legally required to have on-site. Instead, medics deployed intramuscular epinephrine, which they used on Chantel. However, the IV form of the medication is required when a patient goes into anaphylaxis, Health reported. 

The lawsuit was seeking more than $78 million in damages for medical expenses and emotional suffering, AP reported.

“Every minute of Chantel’s life has been inextricably altered,” Morris said in court, the Post reported. “Every single minute since she walked into that medic room to a company that chose profits over patient care.”

Meanwhile, MedicWest’s attorney argued that Chantel never lost consciousness and claimed the outcome was inevitable due to Chantel’s heightened sensitivity to peanuts, the AP reported. 

“The truth came out. Because what happened in that room was nothing. They let my daughter linger,’ Jack Giacalone said, the Post reported.

Chantel, who is now 35, receives round-the-clock care at her parent’s Detroit home. At the time of the incident, Chantel had been launching her acting career, with roles in the 2009 thriller “The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations” and the web series “Hollow Walls," a report said.

Chantel’s father said that his daughter remains confined to her bed and is unable to walk or speak. She is fed through a tube, but is still able to communicate with her eyes, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

On Friday when the verdict was read, Chantel’s father appeared emotional, according to the Review-Journal.  “At least my daughter will be taken care of. I am happy about that.” He said that the money from the lawsuit will be invested in his daughter’s future care and to make their home more conducive to their needs.

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