Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What if a loved one dies from the injuries sustained in a serious accident while the case is pending?”
A website that links consumers with caregivers for children, seniors and pets has been sued by a Wisconsin couple who used the website to hire a nanny to care for their infant daughter. The infant—Rylan Koopmeiner—died in 2012 of a head injury. Police have charged the nanny that the Koopmeiners hired through Care.com with murder.
The nanny—Sarah Gumm of Waukegan, Illinois—was caring for infant Rylan at her home when the child “suffered a skull fracture and cranial hemorrhaging and died on July 27, 2012.” The cause of the child’s death, according to an autopsy, was blunt force trauma to the head.
Ms. Gumm had been cited twice for drunken driving and once for battery before the Koopmeiners hired her. They paid for the highest-level background check available on Care.com, but the site failed to reveal Ms. Gumm’s criminal record. The Koopmeiners say they would not have hired Gumm if they had known about her criminal history. They say Care.com was negligent.
Care.com has responded that while it is deeply saddened by Rylan’s death, the company cannot comment on ongoing litigation. Ms. Gumm’s attorney has said that she did not kill Rylan intentionally.
Police say Ms. Gumm slammed Rylan’s head down on a wooden table when the infant began squirming while being changed. She admitted in an interview with police that Rylan had become fussy, causing Ms. Gumm to become frustrated with the child. Her criminal case is set for trial in September, but her attorney—Jed Stone—hinted that negotiations were underway with prosecutors that may resolve the criminal case short of trial.
The Koopmeiners allege in their wrongful death lawsuit that Ms. Gumm left Rylan “unattended on several occasions to take a taxi cab to a local pharmacy,” where she purchased wine. Ms. Gumm was under the influence of alcohol when she killed Rylan, the Koopmeiners also allege.
Care.com’s failure to notify the Koopmeiners of Gumm’s history of alcohol abuse and violence was critical, because substance abuse problems are warning signs to parents “as to why individuals would not be hired… to look after infants” like Rylan.
Unfortunately, this is not the first lawsuit brought against Care.com involving the death of an infant. In May, an Omaha, Nebraska couple sued Care.com for negligence, alleging that the website failed to report that the nanny they selected to care for their four-month-old daughter had been convicted of drunken driving in June 2012.
The nanny—25-year-old Sarah Cullen—was convicted of killing Cash Bell after the child sustained head fractures resulting in brain hemorrhaging. Prosecutors alleged that Ms. Cullen shook Cash so violently that blood vessels burst and blood pooled in the infant’s eyes.
Following Cullen’s conviction, several jurors were given permission by a judge to hug Cash’s parents.
If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of someone’s negligent or intentional conduct, please do not hesitate to contact me to set up an appointment today. If you or someone you know has any questions regarding potential personal injury claims, feel free to contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC in Charlotte, North Carolina for a free consultation. Call toll free at (955) 370-2828 or click here for additional resources.
About the Author
Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.
In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.
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