Heather Martone ’11 recently celebrated a rare distinction for a law student. Her note, “2.2 Million Children Left Behind: Food Allergies in American Schools – A Study on the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act,” originally published in Brooklyn Law School’s Journal of Law and Policy, was cited by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals in Pace v. Maryland (2010 WL 3770566, footnote 1).
“I am passionate about the issue of food allergies,” Martone said, “because I have severe allergies myself, with anaphylactic reactions to nuts and shellfish.” One of the worst episodes occurred at the start of law school, when Martone ate a seemingly harmless croissant and her throat swelled shut. She was rushed to the hospital, where she remained for several days. She later discovered that although nuts were not listed on the packaging, the croissant had been cross-contaminated with them at the bakery.
“Like all people with anaphylactic food allergies, I must be constantly vigilant,” she said, “not only by looking for the allergens in my food, but by trying to find out how my food was prepared and if there is a chance of cross-contamination.”
Young school children cannot be expected to be so vigilant, Martone explained. She began her note with the story of a nine-year-old boy who was known to his school’s administrators as having severe allergic reactions to peanuts. Nevertheless, the only lunch he was offered on a school field trip contained peanuts, which he realized and therefore refused it. He later ate a cookie that school personnel gave him, not knowing that it contained peanut butter. When he reacted violently, they did not recognize it as life-threatening and failed to call for medical help in time to save his life.
“People are not educated about food allergies and don’t realize the precautions that must be taken,” Martone said. In her note, she urges ratification of a stronger version of The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Management Act, which has failed to pass in Congress several times, although it is “relatively innocuous,” she said. The revised Act Martone proposes would mandate that every public school with at least one student with anaphylactic food allergies follow its provisions, and also make grants available to aid schools in implementing the Act’s guidelines.
The Maryland court cited Martone’s note to support the proposition that there is no uniform federal law to protect school-aged children with severe food allergies. Martone said she found out about the court’s citation through a Westlaw Watch she originally posted in order to receive updates on relevant topics while drafting her note. She completed the note and forgot about the posting – until, that is, she received an alert directing her to a citation of her own work.
Martone is Managing Editor of the Journal of Law and Policy, a member of the Moot Court Honor Society, Trial Advocacy Division, and a CALI Excellence for the Future Award winner in Consumer Protection Law and Problems Solving Courts. She started law school at William and Mary School of Law and transferred to Brooklyn Law School in her second year. She holds a B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA.