Justices revive defamation suit against Chesterfield school officials

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Virginia Supreme Court has revived a defamation lawsuit by a Chesterfield County woman who claims school officials implied she was to blame for her 7-year-old daughter’s death.

First-grader Amarria Denise Johnson died of an allergic reaction in January 2012 after eating a peanut given to her by another student on the Hopkins Road Elementary School playground. Her mother, Laura Mary-Beth Pendleton, had told school staff about the allergy and filed a health plan signed by a doctor spelling out treatment for any allergic reaction.

Pendleton claims school officials made statements to news organizations implying that she had shirked those responsibilities and portraying her as a bad mother.

The justices unanimously ruled Thursday that a judge erred in tossing out the lawsuit.

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