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SPRINGFIELD — The parent company of Canyon Ranch says the resort was not negligent when it served a veggie burger containing cashews to a visitor with a nut allergy.

In response to a civil lawsuit filed last month by the visitor and her mother, CR Resorts denies any negligence or malice, and states that it did not engage in any unfair or deceptive practices, as alleged in the complaint. It claims that the suit should be dismissed.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Springfield last month by Kristen Chu Smart and her mother, Clara Chu.

Smart, a New York City resident, said that during a December 2017 visit to the resort, she informed numerous staffers, including her server, that she was highly allergic to nuts and was assured that there were none in the food she was being served.

She said she suffered anaphylaxis from eating the veggie burger, which contained cashews, and was forced to administer epinephrine to herself because the on-site doctor had no experience with the EpiPen, a common device used to administer medication to counter an allergic reaction.

Smart was treated at Berkshire Medical Center and was prescribed corticosteroids and an antihistamine.

The suit, which seeks unspecified damages and court costs, makes several claims including negligence, breach of warranty, breach of contract, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Clara Chu's claim in the suit alleges that she suffered severe emotional distress at "the sight of her daughter in the midst of a life-threatening reaction."

But in its response filed Feb. 11, CR Resorts says that claim must be dismissed because she wasn't personally affected by the food, and "has not proven any physical manifestation of her alleged emotional distress."

"If the plaintiffs prove emotional distress as alleged," the response reads, "it is not as a result of (CR Resorts') conduct."

No next dates for the case have been set.

This is not the first time the resort has been sued in federal court.

In 2008, Canyon Ranch was forced to pay $14.75 million to hundreds of employees who claimed the resort denied them tips they were owed, according to The New York Times.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@berkshireeagle.com, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.


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