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$10 Million Lawsuit Filed in NC Infant’s Death

The parents of a 4-month-old baby who died after suffocating at a day care in Fort Bragg have filed a lawsuit against the United States government for $10 million.

WRAL News reports that Jason and Rachel Degenhard, of Fort Bragg, are alleging wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress in the case of their son, Santino “Sonny” Degenhard. The infant suffocated on March 9, 2012, during “tummy time” at Pope Child Development Center.

The Degenhards elected to file the lawsuit after the U.S. Attorney’s Office made the decision in April of this year not to file criminal charges against the day care worker who had been responsible for supervising Sonny and three other children on the day of the incident.

Surveillance cameras recorded the incident as it unfolded. According to WRAL, Fort Bragg investigators documented that child care worker Vera Grant positioned Sonny on his stomach on a vinyl mat at 7:13 a.m. Three minutes later, Grant placed a blanket under the infant, leaving him lying on his stomach. As she cleaned the classroom and went in and out of the closet and bathroom, Sonny began fussing and trying to lift his head.

At 7:24 a.m., Sonny kicked the blanket, which bunched up near his mouth. He stopped moving. Two staff members entered the room separately, at 7:26 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., and pointed out that Sonny didn’t look right, but no one checked on him. Grant didn’t pick up the infant until 7:32 a.m., at which point she realized he wasn’t breathing.

While Grant performed CPR, another staff member called 911. Sonny was taken to Womack Army Medical Center, and then transferred to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center. There, doctors determined that the infant had suffered a brain injury due to oxygen deprivation.

He was placed on life support, and the Degenhards made the difficult decision to take him off support when they learned Sonny had no brain activity. The child died on March 15, 2012, after life support was removed.

When no criminal charges were filed against Grant, the Degenhards were “heartbroken and disappointed,” reports WRAL. They are pursuing the lawsuit for the sake of justice for Sonny.

If you or a loved one are considering a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, our dedicated Raleigh attorneys may be able to help you. Contact Kelly & West today to discuss the details of your case.

Please note: Kelly & West are not representing any parties involved with this case

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