MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — Nearly a decade after an 8-year-old child died after experiencing breathing problems while in foster care, two of the people who were sued and held responsible have been found liable by a jury and sentenced to pay $15 million to the child’s estate.
On Aug. 5, a Montgomery County jury found Kristi Kelley and Becky Van Gilder responsible in the death of the child, who died on May 30, 2013 at Children’s of Alabama. The child’s death came after he had experienced breathing problems while in foster care.
Kelley was a social worker with the Alabama Department of Human Resources while Gilder was the victim’s foster parent.
According to a lawsuit filed in January 2015 by the estate’s attorney Andrew Moak, the child was placed in DHR custody. Subsequently, Kelley placed the boy in foster care with Van Gilder. The lawsuit stated that the child suffered from sickle cell anemia, which had had been able to manage with medication up to that point. The estate claimed that while Kelley and Van Gilder were given the child’s medication, it was never administered to him.
The suit stated that on May 29, 2013, the child began having trouble breathing, which they claimed was a side effect of sickle cell anemia. After allegedly being told to go back to bed, the child began experiencing more severe breathing issues hours later, requiring him to be taken to Baptist South Medical Center. There, the child was diagnosed with acute chest syndrome and was later taken to Children’s, where he died.
“Defendants Christy Kelley, Becky Van Gilder… negligently, wantonly or willfully harmed A.C. by violating appropriate checklists, guidelines, DHR rules, statutes, regulations or court orders requiring them to monitor and ensure that A.C.’s medical condition was properly managed and controlled,” Moak wrote in the lawsuit.