A 20-year-old college student died after she took part in a school-sanctioned pancake eating contest for charity in March 2017. Now, the school is saying that she is the one to blame.
Caitlin Nelson, a student who planned to get her master’s degree in social work, attended Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn., where she took part in the fundraiser. At one point during the contest, she started to shake uncontrollably and fell to the floor. She died three days later at a New York City hospital; after which, her family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the university. The lawsuit stated that Sacred Heart approved the contest and the use of pancakes and also failed to have adequate medical personnel present.
But according to court documents filed on Tuesday in response to the wrongful death lawsuit, the lawyers for the university are blaming Nelson for her own death.
The response read that Nelson’s “injuries and damages were caused in whole or in part by Caitlin Nelson’s own carelessness and negligence.”
CTPost.com reported that, according to the original lawsuit, just moments after the contest began, Nelson started to struggle to breathe. Police officers were called to the scene to provide emergency medical care where they found that the pancakes had become “like concrete” in her airway — blocking air flow — and could not be removed. Nelson passed away at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Tests were performed that determined her brain was “severely damaged from oxygen deprivation.”
Sacred Heart believes that Nelson should have realized the risks of an eating contest and planned on how to participate safely.
The family, who lost Nelson’s father, a Port Authority officer, in the 9/11 terror attacks, donated Nelson’s organs after her death. Nelson often worked with children who were affected by the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School with the Resiliency Center of Newtown.
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