Celebrity Westport Couple Sues School System In Tainted Candy Case

WESTPORT, CT — Scott and Marika Foley, stars of “Grey’s Anatomy” and other shows and films, and another parent are suing Westport Public Schools over a December 2022 incident in which some elementary students became ill after ingesting tainted candy while on a school bus.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed in Stamford Superior Court earlier this month, the chocolate candy had been laced with Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, known as Delta-9-THC, a chemical in cannabis that can make people high.

After ingesting the candy, the students had to be treated first at an urgent care facility in Westport, and then at Norwalk Hospital due to their illnesses. In addition to the Foleys, parent Elizabeth Carpenter, who was out of the country at the time, is also a plaintiff in the lawsuit.

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In addition to the Westport Board of Education and Lee Goldstein, its chair at the time, Schools Superintendent Thomas Scarice and the DATTCO bus company are all named defendants in the lawsuit.

The Foleys and Carpenter are alleging the school district was not fully transparent about the severity of the incident, and essentially tried to cover it up. That lack of tranparency has resulted in emotional distress for the children and parents, and other problems.

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Both children spent what is described in the lawsuit as several harrowing hours at Norwalk Hospital following the incident, with the Foleys agonizing over whether the children would survive. Both survived and returned to school after a couple of days.

“In the weeks that followed, [our child] would come home and tell us that principal [Kimberly] Ambrosio would ask him not to speak about what happened; both children were being bullied and called drug addicts; and the rumors were flying because there was no message from the school district as to what happened,” the lawsuit reads. “Our family, the victims of this terrible incident, have been treated as if we are the criminals or perpetrators of some offense. No one from the school or district called to check in on the well being of [the children].”

Both children remained intoxicated from the cannabis for nearly 36 hours.

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The lawsuit claims that another elementary school student found a bag on the bus that contained the candy, and gave it to the two students who became sick.

A 15-year-old student Staples High School student admitted to police to having left the bag on a bus; the bus had been used to transport students from either Staples High School before it was used to transport the elementary school students, according to the lawsuit.

DATTCO was the bus company Westport used last school year when the incident occurred, and its drivers were supposed to check buses for sleeping children following each run, but that procedure was not done on the day that the students ingested the tainted candy.

DATTCO disciplined the driver following the incident, but the district and bus company refused to release or show surveillance video from the bus of the child leaving the bag onboard, or of the children finding the bag and ingesting the candy, according to the lawsuit.

The Foleys and Carpenter sought more transparency over the incident, urging the district to make the school community more aware of what really happened. However, the lawsuit claims, Scarice balked at those suggestions, in part because he allegedly said that another child also ingested some of the tainted candy, and that child’s parents did not want the matter to be disclosed.

Westport police eventually obtained a warrant for the videotape, and the parents and their attorneys were shown a brief clip of the incident, but not the full video, the lawsuit claims.

A few days after the incident, Scarice sent out the following note to parents:

Dear Westport Families,
Last week, there was a school-related incident in which students became ill after ingesting what appeared to be candy. This is a terrifying sign of the times and a traumatic experience for the students and families involved. Last night at the Board of Education meeting, I made a statement on this matter.

I am not at liberty to share additional information and details about this specific incident due to federal laws that protect student privacy. Additionally, I cannot compromise the outcomes of ongoing investigations regarding this issue. However, I can take this as an opportunity to advance parent education on this topic, and to implore those who care for children to be vigilant about candy, chocolate, and other foods that could contain substances that may pose a health and safety risk to our children.

On January 10, 2023, retail cannabis sales will become legal in Connecticut. As a result, we expect cannabis to be more accessible in the community, making the necessity of our awareness and vigilance even more important.

As members of the Westport Prevention Coalition, the Westport Public Schools is collaborating with community agencies to raise awareness about the risks associated with the legalization of cannabis and its potential impact on children and adolescents.

In light of this recent incident, I want to emphasize to families that it is especially important for those caring for our youngest students to remind their children not to consume candy, chocolate, or other food from unknown sources. Children could become very ill, sometimes with fatal consequences, from consuming foods containing drugs or other potentially harmful substances.

In addition, all families should remind their children of the dangers of drugs and alcohol, and that there can be serious school-related and criminal consequences for possessing, selling, or distributing drugs and alcohol on school grounds or at school-sponsored events. To be sure, the school district strictly prohibits the possession, sale, distribution, use, and consumption of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, vapor products, and certain other substances on school grounds, on school buses, at school-sponsored activities, and at certain times outside of school. However, the reality is that these substances still exist in our community, and we must continue to educate our children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

This education must now include ensuring that our youngest children understand the importance of avoiding candy, chocolate, and other foods that they find at school, on a school bus, or somewhere else in the community, or that is offered to them by someone they do not know or do not know well.

Please click this link for additional information on this topic from the Westport Prevention Coalition and WPS Supervisor of Health Services, Sue Levasseur.

I encourage you to discuss this important topic with your children. To assist you in these conversations, I am attaching factsheets prepared by the Westport Prevention Coalition (www.westporttogether.org/prevention-coalition). More information on this important topic can be found at https://beintheknowct.org/parents/.

If you have any questions or would like support from school staff around this issue, please reach out to your child’s building principal who can share appropriate school resources.


Thomas Scarice
Westport Public Schools

The Foleys and Carpenter are seeking unspecified compensatory, legal and equitable, and punitive damages in the lawsuit, in addition to having all legal fees paid by the defendants.

Both Foleys (Marika under the name Marika Dominczyk) have extensive acting credits, including on such shows as “Felicity,” “Scandal,” “Inventing Anna” and “Barry,” among others.

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