Manslaughter charges will not be dropped, as requested, against the daycare van driver who last summer abandoned 2-year-old Haile Brockington in a sweltering van, resulting in her death. The driver, Amanda Inman, had introduced a motion to dismiss the case, which Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey Colbath rejected in West Palm Beach on April 5, noted Andrew Yaffa, the Grossman Roth Miami injury lawyer representing the Brockington family.
Haile died in August after spending more than seven hours alone in a van belonging to Katie’s Kids Learning Center. Temperatures inside the vehicle reached more than 130 degrees, while Haile was still strapped in her car seat, unattended and forgotten.
In addition to the criminal proceedings, the toddler’s parents, represented by Miami injury lawyers Grossman Roth, P.A., have brought a wrongful death lawsuit against, Kathryn Muhammad and Barbara Dilthey, owners of the now-shuttered facility.
Investigations after Haile’s death revealed serious violations of Florida regulations intended to ensure the safety of children. These included the failure to maintain proper attendance and transportation logs, as well as the failure to conduct a visual sweep of the daycare vehicle before and after transporting children.
Muhammad and Dilthey previously acknowledged that employees of Katie’s Kids checked off Haile’s name on the center’s transportation log, indicating that she had been unloaded from the van. In fact, the toddler never left the van, which remained parked outside the daycare facility, stated the Miami injury lawyer.
The wrongful death lawsuit—a legal action brought when negligent acts and omissions cause an individual’s death—is being pursued concurrently with the state’s criminal case against Inman and the daycare facility’s former director, Petra Rodriguez. Both have been charged with aggravated manslaughter of a child. Each has pleaded not guilty.
Inman has argued that the charges against her are unwarranted since Rodriguez never trained her about procedures for transporting children. She also says she was distracted on the day of Haile’s death because she was transporting children of various ages and received no help from co-workers when unloading them.
In its own investigation, Florida’s Department of Children and Families determined that both Inman and Rodriquez signed off, meaning that both confirmed Haile had exited the van.
As both the criminal case and the wrongful death lawsuit continue, Haile’s family and her Miami injury lawyer hope both will serve a common purpose: to spur other daycare centers to implement the safety measures and oversight needed to make sure similar tragedies never occur again.
“When the lives of children are at stake, we need to be absolutely certain that child safety really is coming first,” says Andrew Yaffa, the Grossman Roth Miami injury lawyer spearheading the wrongful death lawsuit. “The rules put in place to protect our children must be followed without any compromise or exception.”