Family of 11-Year-Old Emerson Kate Cole Sues School District After Death from Anaphylaxis


We first learned of the incident that took the life of 11-year-old Emerson Kate Cole in January 2023 from subsequent Facebook posts by her Dad:

Later, we reported on rumors that the epinephrine that could have saved her life was locked away, presumably in the nurse’s office.

At the time, there was little information available regarding the tragedy. Now, the family is suing the Amarillo Independent School District, shedding more light on the incident.

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The lawsuit states that Emerson was severely allergic to milk and had a 504 Plan in place with the school detailing precisely the actions school employees should take if she suffered an allergic reaction. That plan included administering epinephrine and calling emergency services.

The lawsuit alleges that on that day, Emerson was eating lunch at De Zavala Middle School when she felt the telltale signs of an allergic reaction and went to the nurse’s office. Unfortunately, the nurse was not there.

A school official called Chelsea Acosta, Emerson’s mother and a plaintiff in the suit, and asked if they could administer Benadryl to help alleviate her reaction. Ms Acosta agreed, and Emerson was given the antihistamine, which she promptly threw up. She was also given an unspecified “breathing treatment”, presumably an inhaler, while waiting for emergency services to arrive.

EMTs arrived on the scene and initiated treatment for cardiac and respiratory arrest, but she was unable to recover and died in the hospital two days later.

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The lawsuit claims the school:

  • Failed to follow Emerson’s 504 Action Plan;
  • Failed to administer epinephrine when she was having an allergic reaction;
  • Failed to adequately monitor her during her allergic reaction;
  • Failed to promulgate and implement adequate policies and procedures to prevent occurrences such as the one;
  • Failed to establish policies and procedures to adequately administer medications to students who have a disability and/or have been diagnosed with a medical condition that requires the administration of medication;
  • Failed to establish proper training programs for its school employees to prevent such occurrences;
  • Failed to properly monitor and react to students having an allergic reaction during school hours;
  • Failed to have adequate staff on-site during a medical emergency.

The suit seeks reimbursement of medical expenses, attorney fees, and court costs and seeks unspecified damages.

You can read the entirety of the suit by clicking here:

We remind our readers that epinephrine is the only drug that can halt and reverse the progression of anaphylaxis, a life-threatening allergic reaction. Many allergists urge patients who suspect an allergic reaction not to take an antihistamine like Benadryl because the drug may mask the symptoms of anaphylaxis and delay treatment with epinephrine.

Please discuss this with your allergist and be sure to have an emergency action plan in place should the unthinkable happen.

Ensuring Your Child Will be Administered Epinephrine if They React at School
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Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom
Dave Bloom is CEO and "Blogger in Chief" of

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