The family of a toddler who contracted E. coli and subsequently died has settled a lawsuit against the Greenwood daycare center he attended for $1 million, court records show.
The child, Myles Mayfield, was a student at The Learning Vine in Greenwood when he died of hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, a potentially fatal complication of E. coli, last May 31, according to court records. He was 2 years old.
Evidence showed that a teacher at the daycare had been sick with E. coli in early May, but that the facility directors “took no action, ignoring state regulations requiring exclusion of the teacher and notification of the parents,” according to a statement from Eric Hageman, the Mayfields’ attorney.
“When questioned in the lawsuit, the directors claimed they did not know the regulations required notification of the parents and that they were not aware of the dangers of E. coli,” the statement read.
Officials at The Learning Vine could not be reached for comment Monday.
But records from the Greenwood County Court of Common Pleas showed they agreed to settle the wrongful death claim for $1 million, and that by doing so they are “hereby relieved and discharged from further liability.”
In his statement, Hageman said that Myles first got sick on May 26 and tested positive for E. coli on May 29, 2015.
“At that time, the Mayfield family had been told nothing about the presence of E. coliat The Learning Vine,” the statement continued. “Had they known on May 19th that a teacher who tested positive for E. coli was continuing to teach, in violation of state regulations, the Mayfields could have made a different choice with Myles. Instead, the family was kept in the dark and Myles died from the same strain of E. coli as the teacher had.”
E. coli is a bacterial infection marked by severe stomach cramps, often bloody diarrhea, and vomiting, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
People can be infected with E. coli after eating or drinking something contaminated with trace amounts of human or animal feces, according to the CDC, such as consuming food prepared by people who didn't wash their hands well after using the bathroom.
Most of those infected improve in five to seven days, but up to 10 percent — most often young children and the elderly — develop HUS, which can lead to permanent damage or death, CDC reports.
Hageman also shared a statement from the Mayfield family, which said the suit was never about money.
“All the money in the world can’t bring back Myles,” it read. “By filing this lawsuit, we just wanted some accountability, so that no other family would ever have to lose a child the way our family did. We hope that by shining a light on what happened to Myles, future tragedies can be avoided. While we will forever feel the pain of the loss of Myles, we are dedicated to ensuring that his death was not in vain and that those responsible for operating daycares will follow the rules and will put the safety of children first.”
The state Department of Health and Environmental Control said last June that it had been notified on May 18 that a case of E. coli had been confirmed in someone associated with the facility. In all, 14 people were sickened by the infection.
Myles got sick around May 10 and was experiencing severe pain and diarrhea by May 26, according to the suit. Though he was taken to the emergency room, he continued to worsen, his kidneys shut down, and he died on May 31, court records showed.
The daycare was negligent in failing to follow regulations, maintain a sanitary environment, immediately notify parents of the infection, react promptly to an obvious emergency, and prevent the teacher from returning to work without proper testing, the suit alleged.
“The family’s objectives in filing this lawsuit were clear and unwavering — to find out exactly what caused Myles to get sick and to hold accountable those who were responsible for his death," Hageman said. "Throughout the course of this case, we have achieved those objectives.”