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Palm Beach County Day Care Gets Maximum Fine for Child’s Death in Hot Van

As a Coral Springs child injury lawyer, I was interested to see a recent Sun-Sentinel article on penalties for a day care center whose employees’ negligence caused a toddler’s death. Two-year-old Haile Brockington died in August after employees left her strapped into the van the center used to pick up children and take them to Katie’s Kids Learning Center. The van’s driver and the director of the center are charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child, and both were fired from the center. However, the owners of the center, Kathryn Muhammad and Barbara Dilthey, were fined $2,000 by the Palm Beach County Environmental Hearing Board. That fine reflects the maximum $500 fine for each of the center’s four violations of child care regulations, which were not named.

The fired employees appear to have simply forgotten about Haile Brockington on Aug. 5, the day of her death. The police and health department found that the adults had signed off for Haile on transportation, meal and attendance logs. Meanwhile, Haile was actually left in the center’s van for more than six hours, on a day when temperatures reached 91 degrees. The county health department had recommended a total fine of $1,000 for Katie’s Kids, but the Environmental Hearing Board doubled that fine because the case involved the death of a young child. In fact, one board member said he would like to have raised the fine more if there had been a way to do it. Muhammad and Dilthey are also facing a lawsuit by the Brockington family.

That doesn’t surprise me at all. Injuries to children and teens are some of the most heart-breaking injuries I see in my job as a Deerfield Beach injuries to minors attorney. Often, as in this case, the victim is too young or too incapacitated in other ways to have any control over the situation or even raise an alarm. Fortunately for this family, the fines against the day care center are not the only legal consequences for its part in the child’s death. Whether or not the county has assessed an adequate fine, the family can pursue justice through a wrongful death lawsuit. Families that have lost someone through another person’s negligence can never replace that person with money, of course, but they can win fair compensation for their emotional losses and all of the costs caused by the death, which often include very high medical and funeral costs.

At Cohn, Smith & Cohn, we handle cases involving injuries to children with care and compassion. When children are severely injured, they often live with disabilities for the rest of their lives. That means watching their friends and peers pursue things they cannot do anymore, as well as a lifetime of medical care and related costs. Our Miramar injuries to children lawyers help these kids and their families recover compensation for those and other costs, from the negligent people who caused the injuries. A lawsuit can also help families recover fair compensation for their physical pain, emotional anguish, and lifelong disabilities or wrongful death. We want to ensure that our clients have the resources they need to recover and move on as much as they can.

If your child was seriously injured or killed because of someone else’s mistakes, you don’t have to wait for the state’s attorney’s office to intervene. Call us today at (954) 431-8100 or send us an email for a free, confidential consultation.

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