OXFORD • A couple has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against an Oxford daycare over the November 2020 death of their 9-week-old daughter.
Joe and Jenna Hastings argue that the "shockingly coldhearted acts and omissions" of Mother Goose of Oxford directly caused the suffocation death of Brynlee Renae Hastings.
The complaint, filed May 14 in Lafayette County Circuit Court, says the infant was "left neglected and untouched for approximately 35 minutes while swaddled, face down on the floor."
The lawsuit names daycare owners Mike and Alicia Valle as defendants, as well as employees Amy Rogers, Renee Hoover and Susan McCollum. Rogers also faces criminal charges in the death. The civil lawsuit does not specify a damage amount, but asks for compensatory and punitive damages to be determined by a jury.
The Hastingses moved to Oxford in the spring of 2020 and enrolled their 13-month old daughter at Mother Goose. When Brynlee was born in September 2020, the medical staff told the couple that infants should only sleep on their backs. When she was 7 weeks and 2 days old, Brynlee joined her sister at Mother Goose on Nov. 2, 2020.
According to video surveillance from the afternoon of Nov. 17, 2020, Brynlee was swaddled in a blanket so that her arms and legs were bound. She was laid on a cushioned mat on the floor on her back by McCollum in the infant room overseen by Rogers. About an hour later, Rogers rewrapped the child and placed her face down and walked away.
The infant, who was incapable of rolling over on her own, struggled for almost 20 minutes before the lack of oxygen caused her to lose consciousness. While the child struggled, Rogers was a few feet away in a rocking chair and at times on her cell phone.
The child laid motionless on the floor for more than 15 minutes before Rogers rolled the child over and saw her face was covered with blood. The lawsuit said the daycare worker then "in a panic ran out of the room carrying Brynlee."
Three minutes later, staff called 911 to report a 3-month-old was bleeding, but they couldn't tell where the blood was coming from. An ambulance arrived within 10 minutes, and the child was carried to the hospital in Oxford. Emergency room staff was able to detect a pulse after an hour of CPR. She was later airlifted to Le Bonheur Children's Hospital in Memphis. She was pronounced dead late on Nov. 18, 2020, just 15 days after she first attended Mother Goose.
The lawsuit alleges that Mother Goose was alerted almost two years earlier by other parents that Rogers was putting infants to sleep on their stomachs. One family withdrew their infant son after just five days after noticing Rogers' "inattentiveness and dangerous sleep practices." They reported the actions to both the daycare and the Mississippi State Department of Health
Following Brynlee's death, the MSDH opened its investigation and suspended the daycare's license to care for infants. The two-week investigation uncovered a host of violations and led the Oxford Police Department to arrest Rogers, 23, of Grenada, on Dec. 2, 2020. She was charged with culpable negligence manslaughter and booked into the Lafayette County Jail. She was later released on bond.
The lawsuit only presents the Hastingses' side of the incident. Since the complaint was filed Friday, Mother Goose has not has a chance to file a response yet.