Trinity International University student Avery Gilbert, who was an incoming freshman, died unexpectedly on August 10, 2022, following a severe allergic reaction to the school’s dining hall food. | Provided Photo

The family of a Lake Villa teenager and freshman football player has filed a lawsuit against Trinity University in Deerfield claiming the school was responsible for serving the man contaminated food that caused his fatal allergic reaction.

Incoming freshman student Avery Gilbert, 18, was at Trinity University for just his third day on August 10 when he suffered a severe allergic reaction.

Gilbert was found by a fellow teammate in the Johnson Hall entryway after he had collapsed and was unresponsive.

Paramedics arrived quickly and administered CPR and other lifesaving measures before transporting Gilbert to Highland Park Hospital.

He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

A police report said the football players, including Gilbert, were all eating together after practice.

“… everyone thought they were eating chicken… [They] then learned that apparently there was fish in the food along with the chicken,” the police report said.

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A lawsuit filed in Lake County Circuit Court said that the food was supposed to be allergen free but had been “cross-contacted” with allergens by the staff at the dining hall.

The food was served in an area called “The Zone: An Allergen Sensitive Area.”

Gilbert had a known allergy to fish, his family’s attorney’s said.

Gilbert had attempted to go back to his dormitory room to take medicine but his reaction to the food quickly worsened.

He suffered a severe allergic reaction, cutting off his airway within minutes and causing his heart to stop.

Gilbert was from Lake Villa and a 2022 graduate of Grayslake North High School.

Attorney Matthew Sims, one of the attorneys representing Avery’s family, said Gilbert’s death was preventable.

“Tens of millions of Americans live every day with serious food allergies, and every single one of them relies on the professionals preparing food to do it safely in a way that doesn’t cross contaminate food allergens,” Sims said.

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“Anyone who has a food allergy should be able to safely rely on professionals who label their menu as allergen free, not die because a menu was wrong. The allergen-free signs in the allergen-free zone created a false sense of security that proper precautions were being taken. Tragically, Avery’s trust in the menu and kitchen staff cost him his life,” Sims said.

Attorneys for the family say they want answers and accountability to prevent the tragedy from happening again.

The family requested the school to release its full report into the teen’s death but the school reportedly ignored the request.

Gilbert is survived by his parents, three brothers, two sisters, and friends.

The man’s mother told Lake and McHenry County Scanner in August that her son, who was adopted, “was an amazing kid” and an honor student.

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Gilbert had earned football scholarships to go to college.

“Avery was my brother and showed me what strength and perseverance genuinely mean in this life. He encouraged everyone to harbor strength, courage, and integrity and, most importantly, to show up for themselves every day – no matter the circumstance,” Gilbert’s brother, Joshua Real, said at the time of his death.