Miami Herald

Homestead daycare center agrees to $5 million settlement after death of infant

- BY CHARLES RABIN crabin@miamiheral­ Charles Rabin: 305-376-3672, @chuckrabin

Six months after a Homestead infant was found unresponsi­ve at a daycare center and later died, a police investigat­ion still isn’t complete and the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner has yet to issue a cause of death.

But this month, the owners of Lincoln-Marti Daycare agreed to a $5 million settlement with the family of 9-month-old Tayvon Tomlin, according to the family and court documents. As part of the agreement, the grieving family dropped a civil lawsuit that argued the daycare center was negligent.

Tayvon’s mother, Keiara Whorely, 25, said she’s hoping to create a coalition that would push for daycare reform in the Florida Legislatur­e and call for on-site CPR training for workers and more cameras in the centers.

“I’m still hurting,” Whorely, who has two other young sons, said this week. “Something is missing. My son is missing.”

Representa­tives of the daycare center at 510 Krome Ave. have been mostly silent since Tayvon’s death in July. There was no press release issued on the settlement, and the attorney representi­ng Lincoln-Marti did not return calls to her office. But a joint stipulatio­n confirming the case had been dropped and a settlement was reached was filed in MiamiDade Circuit Court on Jan. 3. It doesn’t state an amount.

Despite the settlement, Tomlin family attorney Michael Levine didn’t hold back on criticism. He blasted the business, saying managers had not abided by a state statute that calls for one daycare worker for every four infants in a facility. Levine claimed there was one worker for at least seven children that day.

“They broke the law and they lied about it,” he said. “This settlement is holding them accountabl­e.”

Levine, who took deposition­s from four LincolnMar­ti workers before the settlement was reached, said the director of the center that day said as much under oath when she agreed there weren’t enough employees and that a camera inside the room with Tayvon wasn’t working.

During a deposition in November, Lincoln-Marti Director Rosa Razuri responded “Yes” to a question posed by Levine: If the law was being broken because there was only one worker for seven kids. In the deposition, Razuri responded “No,” when asked if she told any of the parents that the daycare was short-staffed that day.

On July 19, during a caretaker’s early afternoon rounds, 9-month-old Tayvon was found motionless but with a slight pulse during nap time. He was rushed to a hospital, but doctors couldn’t save him. The child’s grandfathe­r said Tayvon seemed fine a few hours earlier when the two were playing before he went off to daycare.

Staff at Lincoln-Marti offered little informatio­n. Three months after his death, the family attorney made public a trio of video feeds from inside the daycare and filed a wrongfulde­ath lawsuit.

One of the edited video clips shows a daycare worker holding the unresponsi­ve child almost upside down and patting him on the back for about 30 seconds. Tayvon is wearing a white diaper. Two other clips lasting less than 20 seconds

each, show a woman walking and cradling the lifeless child and giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitat­ion a few times as she walks.

Still, six months after Tayvon’s death, his family is seeking answers as to what exactly happened. Miami-Dade Police won’t conclude its investigat­ion until the medical examiner issues its findings.

Tayvon’s mom said she wants to make sure others don’t suffer like she has.

“Whatever comes of this, we want to impact parents to not be in this situation,” she said.

 ?? Courtesy of Tomlin family ?? No cause of death has been given for 9-month-old Tayvon Tomlin.
Courtesy of Tomlin family No cause of death has been given for 9-month-old Tayvon Tomlin.

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