Two former Carmel day care workers were ordered Thursday to pay more than $2.3 million to the parents of a 5-month-old boy who died while in the workers’ care.
Hamilton Superior Court Magistrate David Najjar ordered former day care operator Stacey Cox and her daughter, Kirsten Phillips, to each pay $1,157,149.56 to Conor Tilson’s family.
“I am so terribly sorry for your loss,” Najjar told the boy’s parents.
Conor died Jan. 24, 2013, at Cox’s unlicensed home day care in Carmel. His death was listed as “sudden unexpected infant death” with a contributing factor of “unsafe sleep environment on broken Pack and Play.” The boy had been placed in a broken crib with a large blanket in a room with no adults and no baby monitor.
Conor’s parents, John Tilson Jr. and Britney Killea, sued Cox, Phillips, the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration and a landlord in November 2013. The couple said their son died “while sleeping unattended in a hazardous and unsafe environment” that his day care providers and state officials “knew or reasonably should have known” was unsafe, according to Hamilton Superior Court records.
A 2013 IndyStar investigation found state inspectors with the FSSA had been alerted to issues at Cox’s unlicensed home day care months before Conor died, but the law limited what they could do to correct the problems.
The state settled the lawsuit last year for $87,500.
Killea and Tilson’s attorney Stacy Kelley said it is unlikely the couple will receive any money from Cox or Phillips, both of whom were convicted of charges relating to Conor’s death.
And that’s OK, Killea said. Money was never what the lawsuit was about.
“No amount is going to bring our son back,” she said.
Killea and Tilson know they will never hold Conor again, will never see him smile, will never hear him laugh. Nothing can ease that grief.
Killea said the lawsuit was about bringing attention to the need for stronger Indiana day care laws. Since their son’s death, Killea said state legislators have passed seven new laws to strengthen day care regulations.
“That’s what matters to me — the possibility of saving another child,” she said.
Killea said she and Tilson are taking life “day by day” and focusing on their daughters, ages 5 and 2. She encouraged other parents to pick licensed day cares and research the facility before sending their children there.
Cox and Phillips have 30 days to appeal the judge’s order. Neither woman attended Thursday’s hearing.
The Indiana Wrongful Death Attorneys at Glaser & Ebbs are skilled at representing clients and their family members injured persons. It often takes legal action to receive fair compensation in these cases. If the responsible party is not found, we will help you look for other coverage. Contact Glaser & Ebbs to learn more about your legal rights and options.
Source: Indy Star