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SC mother sues day care after worker charged with neglect

File photo of a daycare room
File photo of a daycare room

A mother in South Carolina is suing a national childcare company after a day care worker was caught on camera grabbing a toddler by the arm and swinging him into classroom furniture, leading to head injuries.

Lawyers for Ashana Odom alleged in a Wednesday complaint that a worker at an Aiken location of The Sunshine House slung Odom's 3-year-old son headfirst into a table as a supervisor stood nearby with her back turned, distracted while using her phone.

The Aiken facility has a history of understaffed and underqualified caregivers, said attorney Justin Bamberg, who also represented parents suing The Sunshine House last year after a different worker was charged with child neglect.

Odom's son had accidentally spilled some milk onto the floor right before the incident, Bamberg said. After the child was injured, employees did not seek medical care for him, the attorney added.

"This toddler was effectively tossed like a piece of garbage headfirst into some cubbies, and it resulted in some pretty bad and very significant injuries," Bamberg said.

A photo displayed by the attorney to reporters at a news conference showed the toddler with a large knot in middle of his forehead. Bamberg said the child is still receiving medical care for the head injury more than a month later.

Facility employees covered up the incident, Bamberg said, writing in a report that the boy had pulled away from the teacher while turning around, "causing him to trip over his shoe and fall into cubbies."

But after Odom asked police to investigate, Aiken officials charged the day care worker with child neglect in early November.

The Sunshine House and an attorney listed for the employee in court records did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday.

A statement released by the day care operator after the worker's arrest said the worker was fired the day after the incident and had been working at the facility for less than two months.

Bamberg said The Sunshine House should shut down the facility given its track record, noting there are two other Sunshine House facilities a few minutes away that could serve parents' needs and accommodate qualified staff.

The Sunshine House runs more than 100 schools across nine states, according to its website.

Odom said Wednesday that she was heartbroken and upset over what happened to her son: "He's 3. He's a baby," the mother said.