On July 18, 2022, Keiara Whorley and Devonte Tomlin experienced every parent’s worst nightmare. Just hours after dropping off their 9-month-old son, Tayvon Tomlin, at Lincoln Marti Daycare in Homestead, Florida, they learned he was found in his crib lifeless and was being airlifted to Kendall Regional Medical Center’s trauma unit. Less than an hour later, he was dead.
Attorneys Michael Levine and Stephen Cain from Stewart Tilghman Fox Bianchi & Cain, P.A. filed a lawsuit on behalf of the family to find out the truth about what happened and hold the daycare accountable for its negligence. After exposing Lincoln Marti’s incompetence, poor training and inadequate staffing, the daycare agreed to settle the case for $5,000,000, which was $2,000,000 more than its insurance policies.
Under Florida law, daycares must have at least one childcare provider for every four infants. In our case, Lincoln Marti admitted that they had just one provider watching eight infants—twice as many permitted by Florida law. Despite this, they never told Tayvon’s parents or any of the other parents that they were understaffed.
Getting to the Truth
Through our lawsuit, we received surveillance video that had initially been withheld. The footage revealed 8 infants—including Tayvon—were left completely unattended for over 45 minutes while the sole childcare provider sat outside the room with the door closed. When she finally re-entered the room, she immediately discovered Tayvon in distress and took him out of the room less than one minute later, still breathing.
The video we obtained is difficult to watch but shows inadequate attempts at CPR, wasting precious time. We later learned that the daycare did not perform any drills to ensure staff was prepared for emergencies like this.
Taking Preventative Measures
In a strange twist, the surveillance camera from inside the infant room was broken on the day of the incident and had been for many months. The video we do have is from just outside the door of the infant room. Florida law does not require video cameras to be placed inside the infant room, which is something we hope to change.
Our firm is also working to strengthen Florida law. We plan to work with legislators to require cameras in infant rooms and more, on-site CPR training for childcare providers. We hope these efforts will prevent another family from ever having to go through this type of tragedy.
To learn more, check out NBC 6 South Florida's report on the incident.