This case involved two 2-year-old plaintiffs who were in a private day care with two or three other toddlers at separate times. One day, one of the parents came to pick up their child and no one answered the door. After 30 minutes of knocking, the woman who owned the day care stumbled out. Her speech was slurred and the parents immediately suspected that she was drunk; however, she claimed that she had been to the dentist and was woozy from pain medication. The parents went to pick up their child who had been left with a dirty diaper in his crib.
The parents contacted the law offices of Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP, who, along with Child Protective Services, began an investigation. It was learned that the owner would frequently leave the children during the day and had been found drunk behind the wheel of her parked car nine months earlier during a time when she should have been watching the children. Further, the law firm was contacted by another little boy’s parents whose child had the same exact symptoms of autism as the plaintiff, and who had been in the day care at nearly the same time as the first plaintiff.
Defendant claimed that there was no negligence since any time that she was not at her home, her husband who was a police officer was present. Further, defense claimed that the plaintiff’s could not prove any abuse or neglect and that the claimed injury, autism, is an inherited condition which could not have been caused by any misconduct at the day care.
The law offices of Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP, retained statistical, autism and psychiatric experts to testify that the chances of two children in the same small family day care developing similar symptoms of autism was statistically very, very unlikely. That although autism does have a genetic basis, social factors such as abuse or neglect can aggravate the symptoms. The case settled for the policy limit of the day care’s insurance policy.
RESULT: $300,000 settlement on behalf of plaintiff