By Alyssa Schnugg
The parents of a 9-week-old baby girl who died in November while at Mother Goose Daycare in Oxford have filed a lawsuit against the daycare center that has since closed its doors.
The lawsuit, filed by Jackson law firm Forman, Watkins and Krutz on behalf of Joe and Jenna Hastings and their infant daughter, Brynlee, names Mother Goose owners Mike and Alicia Valle, employees Renee Hoover, Susan McCollum and Amy Rogers as defendants.
Rogers was arrested and charged with culpable negligence manslaughter and is awaiting trial. She is out on a $50,000 bond.
According to the lawsuit, on Nov. 17, 2020, Rogers was the only employee in one of two infant rooms at the daycare. There were four babies in Rogers’ room that day, with Brynlee being the youngest.
The lawsuit claims video footage obtained from the daycare, shows that at 3:17 p.m., Rogers swaddled the baby and then placed her in a small “dog bed-like” bed on her stomach, “pushed her head into the dog bed,” and walked away.
At 3:52 p.m., Rogers checked on Brynlee and found her unresponsive with blood on her face.
The baby was transported to Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi with no pulse. In the emergency room, doctors found a pulse and she was flown to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.
It was determined that Brynlee suffered from an anoxic brain injury due to the deprivation of oxygen to her brain by being placed on her stomach, which is a basic “first principles” violation of state regulation and well-established safe-sleep practices for infants.
Brynlee died at 4:50 p.m. on Nov. 18.
According to the lawsuit, the Hastings have not received any condolence from any of the defendants of the suit.
Following the infant’s death, Oxford Police Department began a criminal investigation. The Mississippi State Department of Health also opened its own investigation into the cause of the child’s death.
On Nov. 19, the State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs issued an emergency suspension of Mother Goose’s license to care for infants.
The MSDH found the daycare in violation of at least eight state regulations. Mother Goose waived its right to an administrative hearing, agreed to a restricted status on its license and agreed to pay the maximum monetary penalty.
The lawsuit also claims that Brynlee’s death was not the first time Mother Goose and other employees knew of Rogers’ failure to provide proper care for infants.
According to MSDH records, a family withdrew their 3-month-old son from the daycare after they allegedly saw Rogers’ “inattentiveness and dangerous sleep practices, including putting infants to sleep on their stomachs and leaving them to sleep outside of their cribs on soft mats.”
The family filed a formal complaint with MSDH in January 2019; however, since no video footage was available at the time, the daycare was fined for being in violation of a regulation requiring bed linens be on a mattress before a child uses it.
On May 12, Mother Goose sent emails out to parents who had children at the daycare informing them that the daycare was closing indefinitely – two days before the lawsuit was filed at the Lafayette County Circuit Court.
Calls to the daycare were unanswered Monday.
The Hastings are seeking actual, compensatory and punitive damages in an amount to be determined by a jury.
Mother Goose of Oxford and the other defendants have 30 days to file their response to the allegations listed in the lawsuit.