Family Sues University After Student Died From Pancake Eating Contest

Neetu Chandak | Contributor

A mother is suing Sacred Heart University after her daughter died from a pancake eating contest in 2017.

Caitlin Nelson, 20, choked and collapsed after quickly stuffing her mouth with pancakes on March 20, 2017. Nelson had no prior experience in speed eating. (RELATED: College Student Dies After Choking At Charity Pancake-Eating Competition)

One official caring for Nelson said her “mouth was compacted with pancakes almost to her teeth,” and another officer described the pancake paste in her airway as “like concrete,” according to The Journal. Nelson died a few days later in a Manhattan hospital due to a lump of food blocking her airway.


Nelson’s mom, Roseanne, filed a lawsuit against the Fairfield, Connecticut, university and is asking for over $15,000 in damages. The mother accused the school for approving the use of pancakes, not having any medical officials at the contest and carelessness and negligence, The WSJ reported.

Roseanne filed the lawsuit to bring awareness to the dangers of such contests and that some foods are safer than others for speed eating.

“These contests are significantly more dangerous than people realize,” Nelson’s lawyer, Katie Mesner-Hage of Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder said, according to The WSJ.

Risks associated with eating contests include choking, permanently stretched stomachs and liver damage and holes forming in the stomach, Business Insider reported.

The charity contest was organized by Nelson’s sorority as part of Greek Week activities, according to The WSJ.

“The University is unable to comment on ongoing litigation,” Deb Noack, Sacred Heart University director of communications, said to The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email.

Nelson’s lawyer did not immediately respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.

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