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COURT RULING: Nut Allergy Is “Disability”

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A ruling by the Iowa Court of Appeals has reversed a lower court’s decision that a child’s allergy to tree nuts was not a disability.

The case arose when Shannon Knudson tried to enroll her daughter, who has a tree nut allergy, at Tiger Tots Community Care Center in Madrid. Officials there said her daughter couldn’t be accepted because of the liability issues created by her allergy. They also said current staffing wouldn’t be able to provide the special needs care her daughter required.

Knudson sued the day care, saying her daughter’s allergy was a protected disability under the Iowa Civil Rights Act. A summary judgment by a Polk County district court said the allergy didn’t fall under the rules of the act.

In its ruling, which was released Wednesday, the Iowa Court of Appeals stated that the allergy does fall under the rules of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The judgment by the district court was reversed and the case is being remanded for further action to answer the question of whether the child’s allergy would substantially limit a major life activity “when active.”