Mother files lawsuit after infant died at Bradenton daycare center

BRADENTON -- The mother of a 4-month-old baby who died in January while in the care of Children's Academy of Southwest Florida has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company.

Kara Gartley's daughter, Karissa Marie Sanchez, died after staying at the daycare center, 923 26th St. W.

On Jan. 7, Gartley dropped her daughter off at the daycare center at about 8 a.m. The baby was found unresponsive in a crib at 11 a.m. When EMS arrived, the baby was unresponsive on the floor with blood and vomit coming from her mouth and nose, according to reports. The baby was taken to the emergency room and died the same day.

The suit, filed Sept. 11, says the defendant's actions "reflect a conduct so reckless or wanting in care that it constituted a conscious disregard or indifference to the life, safety or rights of persons exposed to such conduct."

On the day of the infant's death, a teacher who initially cared for the infant tested positive for cocaine and marijuana and admitted to the recent use of marijuana.

In addition to employing a teacher who was using drugs, the lawsuit claims the daycare center "failed to care for and protect Karissa during the times that she was in their care and custody."

The official cause of death was ruled Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, according to a medical examiner's report issued in March.

After the infant's death, the daycare center was required by the Department of Children and Families to temporarily quit providing care for children under the age of 1, but as of Aug. 1, that permission had been restored, said Matthew Taylor, an attorney for the daycare center.

The daycare center is working with its insurance counsel and Gartley's attorney.

Taylor said he thinks all sides are optimistic the lawsuit will not be a long, protracted process.

"Everybody was pretty devastated," Taylor said. "It was a tragedy all around."

Meghin Delaney, education reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7081. Follow her on Twitter @MeghinDelaney.