TWIN FALLS, Idaho – The parents of a 15-month-old boy who died after he stopped breathing at Happy Feet Day Care in Twin Falls have won a court settlement of more than $1 million.
The Times-News reports Shyloh Masuo and Joshua Becker sued day care owners Gloria Galan and Julio Silva and two unnamed employees, contending the day care was reckless and breached its duty to care for Brendan Becker, who died July 5 at a Boise hospital.
Fifth District Judge G. Richard Bevan handed down the $1.06 million settlement Monday, telling the parents that he hopes “this will help start the healing.”
Galan and Silva did not respond to the lawsuit, nor did they attend Monday’s hearing, when the parents were awarded the money in a default judgment. Galan did not immediately return a phone call from the Associated Press seeking comment.
The parents’ attorney, Robyn Brody, said Brendan died after Galan put the toddler in a car seat, which was in a playpen, and then left him unsupervised.
“There’s no doubt this baby was strangled by a car seat,” Brody said. “The court has to place a value on this family’s loss.”
No one was charged in connection with Brendan’s death.
The case highlights a need for changes in Idaho’s day care legislation, following years of failed attempts at stricter day care rules, Brody said. Idaho law does not require day cares to be licensed if they take in six or fewer children.
“Our system needs help,” Brody said, calling the toddler’s death “every working parent’s nightmare.”
Masuo and Joshua Becker said Galan wouldn’t give them any information about what happened to Brendan.
“She just kept telling me he was being fussy,” Becker said. “I said, ‘No, I want to know what happened to my son.’ ”
The day care’s license was suspended by the state days after Brendan’s death, and was to remain suspended pending the outcome of the case, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare spokesman Tom Shanahan said in August.