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Death of 2-Year-Old at DayCare Center Wins $12.5 Million

Twelve days after a day care center was ordered by the State not to permit toddlers to climb on a five-foot climber/slide platform, the day care center allowed a two-year-old boy to climb on the platform and fall, resulting in spinal injury and death. No day care center staff saw the fall. The day care center and the day care center's owner were sued for wrongful death.

At trial, evidence was presented that a State inspection of the day care center, conducted one day after the child's death, found numerous violations, including failing to maintain an adequate child/staff ratio, failing to supervise children at all times, failing to maintain a proper depth-resilient surface beneath playground equipment, and permitting children on equipment that was not age-appropriate. The State permanently revoked the day care center's license to operate following the death of this child.

Prior to the final revocation of the day care center's license to operate, the State had cited the day care center for numerous rule violations including, (1) violating the rule requiring adequate child/staff ratios a total of 8 times; (2) violating the rule requiring that children be supervised at all times a total of 11 times; (3) violating the rule requiring that a proper depth resilient surface be maintained beneath equipment a total of 10 times; (4) failing to have safe and age-appropriate outdoor equipment a total of 6 times. Additionally, the State had previously revoked the day care center's license to operate on the same grounds 5 1/2 months prior to the child's death. At the time of the child's death, the day care facility was operating on a temporary permit pending an appeal of the revocation order.

Following the presentation of evidence, the Court rendered an award in the amount of $12,500,000. $2,500,000.00 of this amount was awarded as compensatory damages and $10,000,000.00 of this amount was awarded as punitive damages.

Verdict Date: March 28, 2002
In the State Court of Gwinnett County, State of Georgia
Counsel for Plaintiffs: Grant Law Office

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*Wayne Grant has been practicing law since 1979. Grant Law Office was founded in 2000.