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Army Chief sued over Peanut allergy death

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By beagle on Tue, 06-10-08, 00:29

The chief of the Australian army is being sued over the death of a Melbourne Scotch College student who last year suffered a peanut allergy attack at a cadet camp.

Nathan Francis, 13, died while on bivouac after partly eating a peanut-based food pouch supplied by the army.

Mr Francis was with hundreds of schoolboy cadets, teachers and volunteers in the Wombat State Forest on March 30 when he ate from the combat ration pack.

The satay beef pouch, which contained peanuts or peanut protein, was cooked by Mr Francis on an open fire.

Before the bivouac, Mr Francis was one of seven cadets who had reported peanut allergy status to the Scotch College army cadet unit.

His mother Jessica Francis had notified the unit of her son's condition.

In a writ lodged today, Comcare - the Commonwealth occupational health and safety authority - states that Mr Francis reacted immediately and spat out something.

The corporal in charge of Mr Francis' platoon, a year 10 student, helped him to a tent before he later collapsed and fell unconscious.

He died at the Royal Childrens Hospital about three hours after first eating the ration.

The writ seeks the enforcement of a pecuniary penalty against the chief of the army in his capacity as the employer to members of the Australian Army Cadets.

In its statement of claim, Comcare seeks declarations that the chief of the army breached its duty of care to Mr Francis and seven other cadets.

It is alleged that breaches include the supply and consumption of the ration packs, risks to health and safety, supervision and breaches of duty. Each breach carries penalties of $242,000.

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