Model Chantel Giacalone was paralyzed from an allergic reaction to a peanut butter pretzel in 2013. Nearly a decade later, her family has been awarded $29.5 million after a jury ruled the ambulance service provided improper care.
Giacalone and her family have been awarded nearly $30 million in damages after the model and actress suffered permanent brain damage from an allergic reaction to a peanut butter pretzel.
According to reports from the Las Vegas Review-Journal, back in 2013, Chantel was working at a fashion trade show in Las Vegas when she bit into some frozen yogurt topped with the pretzel, which sent her into anaphylactic shock. Once paramedics responded to the scene, they treated her with intramuscular epinephrine, but they did not have the intravenous version of the medication–even though first responders in the state are required to carry it for severe allergic reactions.
Since Giacalone was not given epinephrine through an IV, her brain was deprived of oxygen for minutes, according to her lawyer, Christian Morris. Now the 35-year-old is quadriplegic and can only communicate with her eyes, requiring 24-hour care.
On April 9, 2021, 8 years after the incident, Giacalone was awarded $29.5 million after a jury found that paramedics did not provide adequate treatment. According to her family, that money from the lawsuit will be used to pay for her continued care.
While Chantel’s parents are excited about the verdict, the couple says there’s still a long road ahead in terms of recovery for the former model and actress.
“At least my daughter will be taken care of. I’m happy about that,” Chantel’s father Jack Giacalone shared with the Review-Journal. “All the anguish that we’ve been through for the last eight years, I’m not happy about.”
The star’s mother Deborah Giacalone added that “It’s very hard to take care of her, but I would not have it any other way.”
The family’s lawyer Christian Morris told PEOPLE that the paramedics’ delayed response was due in part because they believed Chantel was “on something,” even though she had expressed she was experiencing a severe allergic reaction.
“IV epinephrine is required when a person’s allergic reaction is so severe that their circulatory system is about to collapse. In this case, the medics failed to recognize and quickly react to Chantel when she presented at the medic room,” Morris said in a statement. “She told them she was having an allergic reaction, she told them she was allergic to peanuts and had bitten into a pretzel, and she told them she was not having any relief from her epi-pen. Instead of immediately giving her intermuscular epinephrine (which they did have in their bags) they checked her blood glucose because they thought she maybe had an altered mental status.”
Prayers up for Chantel’s family.