Lawsuit: Baby died after being left alone at day care

A 3-month-old boy who died in a DeKalb County child care center in 2009 had been left alone while staff members went to lunch, according to a lawsuit filed this week in state court. But the center denies any wrongdoing in the boy's death.

The boy, Darryl Love II, died on Sept. 15, 2009, the first day he attended Childfirst 24 Hour Childcare on Columbia Drive, an attorney for the baby's parents told the AJC.

DeKalb County police and Bright from the Start, the state agency which regulates child care facilities, investigated the baby's death, but no charges were ever filed. At a state hearing, the center was vindicated and has remained open.

According to the lawsuit filed in DeKalb County State Court on Monday -- the same day a 2-year-old girl died after she was left inside a van outside a Clayton County day care -- baby Darryl was left "unattended and unsupervised for an extended period of time."

"When Defendant’s employee returned from her lunch break, she went to check on Darryl Love II and found him blue and unresponsive," the lawsuit states. "After Darryl Love II was found unresponsive, Defendant’s employees negligently responded to the emergency and negligently failed to immediately call 911 and render appropriate aid."

Darryl was transported to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, but did not survive, according to the DeKalb County police incident report.

An autopsy was inconclusive in identifying the exact cause of death beyond asphyxiation, Kelly Christian, lawyer for the baby's parents, told the AJC. The newborn could have suffered from SIDS, Christian said. The suit, which does not seek a specific amount in damages, also contends that Childfirst did not have a plan in place for emergencies.

An attorney for the child care center told the AJC the baby's death was a tragedy that could not have been prevented.

"The findings show that at no time was Darryl Love left unattended nor the room under-staffed," attorney John A. Nuckolls Jr. said in a statement. "Furthermore, the findings show that a written emergency plan was in place and that there was no delay in contacting 911."

Online records show state officials have visited Childfirst seven times since April 2010. On April 29, 2010, the center was cited for not having adequate staffing. In May, the center was cited for having incomplete records on the children attending.