Couple sues sitter Baby suffocated in her playpen

September 23, 1992|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

A Hampstead couple is seeking more than $1.5 million from a baby sitter who was taking care of their 4 1/2 -month-old daughter when she suffocated in a playpen.

The suit, filed yesterday in Carroll County Circuit Court, also seeks $1.5 million from the company that manufactures the portable playpen.

Patricia and Michael Endres, the plaintiffs, said in the suit that defendant Veronica Giffi, a licensed day-care provider, was watching their daughter, Anna Marie, at Mrs. Giffi's Hampstead home in September 1991.

The suit claims that Mrs. Giffi "failed to give proper care" by leaving the baby "unattended and unsupervised in the basement of the family care home."

The infant became "lodged" in the portable Graco playpen, which caused her to suffocate, the suit says, and the baby died the next day.

Attorneys for the Endreses could not be reached for comment yesterday, and Mrs. Giffi referred questions to her attorney, who also could not be reached.

A spokesman for Graco Children's Products Inc. of Pennsylvania, the co-defendant, declined to comment, saying the company has not been served in the lawsuit.

The Endreses claim that their daughter's head became caught between the side and bottom of the playpen.

Mrs. Giffi was "under a duty to Anna Marie Endres to exercise the degree of care, skill and judgment ordinarily possessed by other family child-care mothers," the suit says. Those duties included "not to leave her alone in a remote area of her home, to monitor her condition and surrounding environment and to place the mattress under the [playpen] pad to prevent her from becoming injured," the suit says.

It is believed the mattress provided the weight necessary to lodge the baby's head at the bottom of the playpen, the suit says.

"The [playpen] is defective and unreasonably dangerous because Graco completely failed to warn of the danger of suffocation to an infant if additional padding . . . is placed within the [playpen]," the suit alleges. The Pack 'n Play Totyard owned by the Endreses was "defective" and "unreasonably dangerous" when it was sold by Graco, the suit contends, and "Graco completely failed to warn of the danger of asphyxiation to an infant."

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