Attorneys Eric Hageman and Ryan Osterholm filed a wrongful-death lawsuit today on behalf of the family of a 2-year-old boy who died from an E.coli infection he contracted from the Learning Vine daycare center in Greenwood, South Carolina. In June, Learning Vine was linked to an outbreak that sickened a total of 14 children.
The suit alleges that the outbreak began with a teacher who had an E. coli O157:H7 infection and returned to work without being tested to make sure it had cleared. The teacher was ill from about May 3 to May 11, but her illnesses was not reported to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) until May 18 and parents at the daycare were not notified, the suit alleges.
Although young children are among those most at-risk for E. coli infections and for HUS, Learning Vine did not take proper steps to keep the children safe, the suit alleges. In addition to allowing the teacher to return to work without being tested, knowing she would be in close contact with children, Learning Vine also took no action to improve the sanitation of the daycare facility after learning of the employee’s illness, the suit alleges.
In its last inspection before the outbreak, Learning Vine received a letter grade of C and was cited for 12 health and safety violations including a dirty refrigerator, an uncovered trash can in kitchen, lack of hands-free trash cans at diapering stations, no sink near diapering stations; and snack food stored in a closet with a diaper trash can, and basket of dirty towels.
Myles Mayfield, 2, was one of the 14 children who were sickened in the outbreak. He developed a severe complication of E.coli infections called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). He died May 31, 2015.
“This was an entirely preventable tragedy,” said Hageman. “While I’m sure no one at The Learning Vine wanted this to happen, it happened because this daycare didn’t follow the rules. Parents have a right to expect that daycare facilities to which they entrust their children will follow basic safety and hygiene regulations in place to protect them. Here, that didn’t happen and this family is entitled to know why.”