CHARLESTON –- The parents of a two-year-old are suing Kiddie Academy of WV after they claim their son contracted encephalitis at the child care center, which caused him to have neurological and visual injuries.

The infant, B.E.A., was two years old when he began attending the child care center five days per week, according to a complaint filed Jan. 20 in Kanawha Circuit Court.

B.E.A.'s parents, Kristina N. Russell and Christopher P. Aldrich, claim their son was not fully potty trained when he began attending the facility and was exposed to the defendants' diaper changing and toilet training facilities and practices. They claim their son was provided daily lunch, drinks and snacks at the facility and was also exposed to its food and drink service practices.

Russell and Aldrich claim the defendant failed to keep a clean and safe environment.

The defendant had a duty to provide, maintain, enforce and practice hygienic and sanitary diaper changing and toilet training areas and practices, but failed to do so, according to the suit.

In November, B.E.A. contracted mycoplasma encephalitis, an irritation and swelling of the brain, at the child care facility, according to the suit.

Russell and Aldrich claim their son suffered serious neurological injury, including temporary blindness with a severe visual defect, was in a coma for several weeks, was placed on a ventilator and suffered prolonged hospitalizations. They claim they incurred nearly $500,000 in medical expenses.

The defendant's staff members "washed their hands following diaper changes in sinks were baby bottles were washed; no hand washing sinks were provided near the diaper changing tables; children's sippy cups and glasses were washed in the classroom hand washing sinks...drinking fountains were dirty; dirty diapers were not stored in covered containers; and the ceilings were dirty and in bad repair," according to the suit.

On Jan. 3, the parents claim that due to the unsafe and unsanitary conditions of the child care facility, Kiddie Academy of WV was closed by the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.

On Jan. 5, without proper approval and without a valid child care license, the defendant relocated and resumed child care operations, according to the suit.

The following day, the defendant's child care license was revoked by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

Russell and Aldrich are seeking compensatory and punitive damages. They are being represented by Robert V. Berthold Jr. and Christina L. Smith.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Louis Bloom.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number: 11-C-110




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