CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (ChesterfieldObserver.com) — The mother of a 7-year-old girl who died in January 2012 after ingesting a peanut at Hopkins Elementary School has filed a defamation lawsuit against Chesterfield Schools Superintendent Marcus Newsome and former School Board member Patty Carpenter, along with four other school officials.
Laura Pendleton’s suit seeks $1 million in actual damages and $350,000 in punitive damages. The defendants include Newsome and Carpenter; former Assistant Superintendent Ed Witthoefft; Jody Enoch, public health nurse supervisor for the Chesterfield Health Department; Tim Bullis, the school system’s community relations director; and Shawn Smith, assistant director of community relations for county schools.
In the lawsuit, Pendleton also seeks to “set the record straight” that her daughter, Amarria Johnson, died not as a result of Pendleton’s actions, but because of the “grossly negligent actions of certain school and health department officials.”
In an attempt to deflect attention away from the conduct of those officials, the suit claims, the defendants made “false and defamatory statements” that were disseminated publicly through various media outlets and created an incorrect impression that Pendleton “was responsible for her daughter’s death or otherwise neglected her child.”