31 Jan 2009

Hyde Park Baptist Church loses appeal in daycare abuse case

Austin American-Statesman January 30, 2009

by Chuck Lindell

Hyde Park Baptist Church must pay the full amount of damages awarded to a family whose 1-year-old was abused while attending the church’s day care in 2004, an Austin appeals court ruled today.

Hyde Park Baptist asked the court to throw out most of the $163,562 award to the family of Parker Curtis, saying there was no basis for the future medical expenses award ($34,980) or the future mental anguish award ($100,000).

The 3rd Court of Appeals saw it differently in this decision.

The church also argued that the jury erred when it declared Hyde Park Baptist 80 percent responsible for the acts of teacher Sue Lowry, who was accused of using her hip to bump Parker to the classroom floor, where he injured his head.

The appeals court ruling, written by Justice Diane Henson, made short work of that argument:

“The Curtis family presented evidence that Hyde Park administrators had received numerous complaints from parents and teachers regarding Lowry’s inappropriate and abusive behavior towards toddlers in her care.

“Despite these reports, which spanned a period of 10 years, Hyde Park chose to retain Lowry as a lead teacher in a classroom with children under the age of 2.

“Even after Hyde Park administrators received reports that Lowry had injured (Parker) by intentionally knocking him to the ground, that she had previously knocked other children to the ground, and that she frequently singled (Parker) out for rough treatment, Hyde Park left (Parker) and his classmates in Lowry’s care for several more days.

“The jury also heard evidence that Hyde Park administrators attempted to conceal Lowry’s treatment of (Parker) — and his resulting injury” — even though CPS was investigating the boy’s treatment, Henson wrote.

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