Montreal parents sue daycare for $3.55M after alleged baby-shaking incident

Montreal parents sue daycare for $3.55M after alleged baby-shaking incident

A Montreal couple is suing a daycare for $3.55 million for damages after their child was allegedly shaken and left with permanent injuries.

The parents say their daughter, now 4, is blind and has severe cognitive delays.

"The family is devastated by this incident, and this is a lifelong challenge," the couple's lawyer, Jonathan Gottlieb, told CBC.

CBC is not naming the parents who filed the lawsuit in order to protect the child's identity.

The alleged incident dates back to March 3, 2014, when the girl was 18 months old.

According to the civil suit filed in court, the mother dropped off her daughter at a home-based daycare, Les petits anges de LaSalle, on 90th Avenue, which was run by Gorette Masembua, 38, and Dimandja Kakesse, 39.

During the lunch hour, the mother got a call from Masembua, who said the child was vomiting "through her mouth and nose" and was having difficulty breathing. The mother told her to call 911, but Masembua refused.

The lawsuit goes on to say that the mother called 911 herself before rushing to the daycare.

She found her daughter pale and unconscious. Ambulance technicians tried to reanimate her.

By the time they arrived at the Montreal Children's Hospital, the toddler's condition had deteriorated, and doctors told the mother that her baby may not survive.

"Tests showed that she suffered a severe craniocerebral trauma and she suffered, among other things, a hemorrhage in her retinas and brain," the civil suit states.

The family lawyer said doctors told the parents their baby suffered shaken baby syndrome.

"When the girl was dropped off at daycare, she was in perfect health," Gottlieb said, adding that there is also a criminal lawsuit before the courts. "Doctors have confirmed that the cause of the injuries are the shaking of the baby."

Lifelong consequences

After spending one month in hospital and undergoing years of rehabilitation therapy, the child, now 4, still suffers from many health conditions.

The civil suit states that she is "practically blind and also has difficulty with her co-ordination and motor skills. She also unfortunately suffers from a severe intellectual delay. It will persist throughout her entire life."

The lawsuit goes on to say that her health condition will affect her ability to do well in school and find future employment, not to mention how it will harm her social life.

The parents are seeking $3.55 million for "loss of earning capacity" and for suffering pain and anxiety.

"All of the medical appointments, trying to help their daughter to go through life … I can easily say that they are devoted parents, and they will continue to be, but the situation remains very difficult," Gottlieb told CBC.

Criminal case underway

While the parents are suing for compensation in a civil lawsuit, a criminal case is also before the courts.

Masembua is charged with aggravated assault, while Kakesse is facing a charge of being an accessory after the fact and obstructing police by hindering officers from doing their work.

The two were released in May 2014, after their first court appearance, and have abided by the conditions imposed by the court. They must stay away from the family of the alleged victim and cannot be in a position of authority over any youth under the age of 16. They are also not allowed to run a daycare.

Masembua and Kakesse are due back in court in May for their preliminary inquiry.