Miami Child Safety Lawyers News – The owners of a Delray Beach child care center where a 2½-year-old girl died after being left hours in a sweltering van have been ordered to appear Dec. 2 before the Environmental Control Hearing Board of Palm Beach County, where Delray Beach is located.
The owners of the center—Katie’s Kids Learning Center—have been cited for violating four key health code violations in connection with the toddler’s death. They will be given the opportunity at the hearing to show why they should not be fined or held in violation. But a lawyer representing the deceased girl’s parents worries that other children may still be at risk.
Andrew Yaffa, an attorney with Grossman Roth, P.A., the Miami-based wrongful death and child safety law firm, notes that the Delray Beach center has closed since the death there Aug. 5 of Haile Brockington, after she was left strapped in a car seat for more than seven hours. But Yaffa said three other facilities operated by the same owners remain open: two in Palm Beach County and one in Broward County.
“I’m hoping that the health department is going to investigate all the centers so that all of the children are protected,” Yaffa said. “If [the owners are] continuing [their] haphazard practices at these other facilities, every child being transported to and from there is in danger.”
Yaffa added that any continued violation of regulations would be particularly troubling because they go to the very core of child safety standards. At Katie’s Kids, for example, violations included leaving a child unattended in a van, maintaining improper attendance and transportation logs, and not conducting a visual sweep of a vehicle before and after transporting children.
The Grossman Roth Miami wrongful death attorney is representing Haile’s family in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against the now-shuttered Katie’s Kids, its owners, and the driver of the van, Amanda Inman.
The center’s owners—Kathryn Muhammad and Barbara Dilthey—have acknowledged that several employees checked off Haile’s name on the transportation log, indicating that she had been unloaded from the van. Staff members also indicated that Haile had attended school the day she died. In fact, she never left the van—parked outside the center on a day when temperatures reached into the 90s. Haile was only discovered—lifeless—when another child boarded the bus for a trip later in the afternoon. Inman, the bus driver, has been charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child.
In August, the health department notified Katie’s Kids that it intended to revoke its license. Muhammad and Dilthey voluntarily relinquished that license the following month, saying they couldn’t afford to keep the facility open after Palm Beach County’s Early Learning Coalition pulled more than $200,000 in funding in August.
But Muhammad and Dilthey’s other three centers remain open—a fact that troubles Yaffa, a leading wrongful death lawyer. He said he is concerned the same crucial child safety regulations may be skirted or outright ignored at the company’s other childcare centers.
“We like to think people learn from their mistakes,” the Grossman Roth attorney said. “But that’s not always the case. And when the lives of children are at stake, we need to be absolutely certain that child safety really is coming first, that the rules put in place to protect our children are being followed without any compromise or exception.
“That didn’t happen with Haile,” he said, “and instead of a happy child with a future, we have a wrongful death lawsuit and parents whose lives will never be the same.”
This news story was brought to you by the Miami child safety lawyers at Grossman Roth, fighting for those needlessly injured by the negligence of others for three decades, and along the way becoming one of South Florida’s preeminent firms for personal injury lawsuits, child safety cases, and wrongful death claims, helping clients obtain the recovery they deserve.