Family of Teen Who Died After 'One Chip Challenge' Files Lawsuit Against Paqui and Walgreens Where Chip Was Sold

Harris Wolobah, 14, died on Sept. 1 after eating the company's now-discontinued spicy chip

<p>GoFundMe</p> Harris Wolobah


Harris Wolobah
  • On September 1, 2023, 14-year-old Harris Wolobah died after participating in Paqui's “One Chip Challenge”

  • Wolobah's cause of death was deemed a cardiopulmonary arrest “in the setting of recent ingestion of food substance with high capsaicin concentration"

  • In a new complaint, the Wolobah family allege that the chip Harris ate was “freely accessible to children” at Walgreens

The family of the 14-year-old boy who died after participating in Paqui's “One Chip Challenge” is taking legal action.

Harris Wolobah, a sophomore at Doherty Memorial High School in Massachusetts, died on September 1, 2023, from consuming a high level of chili pepper extract, according to the Massachusetts Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. On July 11, his mother Lois Wolobah filed a lawsuit with the firm Sheff & Cook, according to the complaint obtained by PEOPLE.

The complaint serves to “recover for the conscious pain and suffering and wrongful death” of her son. The defendants in the case include Paqui, the Hershey Company, Walgreens and the manager of the Walgreens where the chip that Harris consumed was sold.

Related: Cause of Death Revealed for Teen Who Died After ‘One Chip Challenge’

The viral trend on social media involving eating a chip containing Carolina Reaper and Naga Viper peppers was not intended for children, per Paqui. But the complaint alleges that the product was “freely accessible to children” in Walgreens as it “was not secured behind the checkout.”

The Wolobah family is demanding a trial by jury on all 29 claims listed in the complaint, which include “negligence” and “maliciousness” among others.

<p>Sarah Dussault/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty</p> One Chip Challenge

Sarah Dussault/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty

One Chip Challenge

In a news conference on July 11, the family’s attorney, Douglas K. Sheff, told media outlets that Harris’ parents hope to protect other kids through their legal efforts.

“They believe that in filing this lawsuit, they are going to ensure this doesn’t happen to other kids and other families,” he said.

In September, Lois spoke with WBZ about the tragic loss of her son. "I pray to God that no parent goes through what I'm going through," she said. "I don't want to see anybody hurting the way I'm hurting. I miss my son so much, I miss him so much."

Paqui’s One Chip Challenge is packaged in a coffin-shaped box and reads “Any Last Words?” on the inside.

“Remember the grim reaper asked ‘any last words?’ Well, we intend to give those last words to Harris, to Lois, to [Harris' father] Amos, to the Wolobah family as well as to our entire community and these words will be words of justice,” Sheff said in the news conference.

In a statement to PEOPLE regarding the lawsuit filing, a Paqui spokesperson shared their condolences with the Wolobah family.

“We were and remain deeply saddened by the death of Harris Wolobah and extend our condolences to his family and friends. Paqui’s One Chip Challenge was intended for adults only, with clear and prominent labeling highlighting that the product was not for children or anyone sensitive to spicy foods or has underlying health conditions,” the statement read.

“We saw increased reports of teens and other individuals not heeding these warnings. As a result, while the product adhered to food safety standards, out of an abundance of caution, we worked with retailers to voluntarily remove the product from shelves in September 2023 and discontinued the One Chip Challenge.”

Related: 14-Year-Old Boy Dies After ‘One Chip Challenge:’ I Don't Want Anyone ‘Hurting the Way I'm Hurting,’ Says His Mom

Wolobah's exact cause of death was deemed a cardiopulmonary arrest “in the setting of recent ingestion of food substance with high capsaicin concentration.” The examiner could not confirm that the chip was the source of the capsaicin.

They did determine that the high schooler had an enlarged heart and a congenital heart defect. His family was not aware of the condition at the time of his death, which is not uncommon with cardiomegaly, according to the NIH.

When discussing the consumption of the chips, Sheff reiterated that “these kids did nothing wrong. They did what kids do.”

“One look online, where defendants urged posts [from customers], made it clear that children were consuming this chip, that they were getting sick,” the attorney said.

Sheff said his firm is issuing a “call to action” to anyone who has ever consumed the Paqui chip “to share their experience, to learn more about their rights and how we can all work together to protect our kids."

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.