Court Finds Daycare Was Not Responsible for Criminal Acts of Employees

Recently, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a personal injury case brought by the family of an infant who was beaten to death by a nanny. The case was filed against the nanny, as well as the daycare centers that previously employed the nanny. The court was tasked with determining whether the daycare centers that previously employed the nanny could be held liable for the nanny’s criminal conduct.

The case is important to Maryland personal injury victims, including victims of nursing home abuse and neglect, since it illustrates the outer limits of the liability of a facility – whether daycare or nursing home – for former employees.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiffs found a nanny on a child-care website to watch their infant son. The plaintiffs ran a background check on the nanny, and after finding that there had been no reports, they hired the nanny. About a month after the nanny started watching the plaintiff’s son, they discovered that she had beaten the young boy badly. He later died from the injuries he sustained.

The plaintiffs filed a personal injury lawsuit against the nanny, as well as two daycare facilities that had previously employed the nanny. The plaintiffs argued that the facilities had reason to know that the nanny had abused other children but failed to report the abuse. As it turns out, there was evidence that the nanny had been reported at both facilities for being rough with children, but management determined that the claims were not substantiated and did not pass the reports on to law enforcement or the state’s child abuse registry.

The trial court dismissed the daycare facilities from the lawsuit, finding that while they did owe the plaintiffs and their son a duty of care, the duty was not violated by the facilities. The court explained that any potential negligence on the facilities’ part was too tenuously related to the ultimate harm suffered by the plaintiffs’ son. The trial proceeded against the nanny, and a verdict in excess of $5 million was awarded to the plaintiffs. The plaintiffs, however, appealed the court’s decision to dismiss the daycare facilities.

The Court’s Decision

The court determined that the lower court was proper to dismiss the case against the daycare facilities. The court explained that a duty can arise, but in order to find such a duty, there must be either evidence that the facility contributed to the harm or that a special relationship existed between the facilities and the plaintiffs. Here, the court held that neither of these situations applied to the case at hand. The court noted that nothing the facilities did increased the risk of injury to the plaintiffs’ son. Similarly, the plaintiffs did not have a relationship at all with the daycare facility. Thus, the court affirmed the dismissal of the case against the care facilities.

Is Your Loved One at Risk?

If you have a loved one in a Maryland nursing home, or a child in a Maryland daycare facility, and you believe that they may not be receiving the care they deserve, you should reach out to a dedicated personal injury attorney to discuss your options. It may be that you are entitled to monetary compensation for the lapses in care your loved one experienced. To learn more, call 410-654-3600 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney to discuss your case.

More Blog Posts:

Video Evidence Is Catching More Abusive Caretakers in the Act, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published March 23, 2018.

Court Refuses to Enforce Arbitration Agreement in Recent Nursing Home Case, Maryland Nursing Home Lawyer Blog, published April 6, 2018.

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