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Alabama Department of Human Resources Hit with Negligence Lawsuit Over 8-Year-Old’s Death

— April 6, 2020

The father of an eight-year-old boy who had cerebral palsy and died in his mother’s care is suing the Alabama Department of Human Resources for neglect and wrongful death.

The Alabama Department of Human Resources recently came under fire in a lawsuit that accuses the agency of negligence over the wrongful death of eight-year-old LeBrawn Rankin, who had cerebral palsy. According to the lawsuit, the child has no adult supervision at the time of his death. To make matters worse, the department and many of its employees “ignored numerous complaints of abuse and neglect” from the child’s school officials at Augusta Evans School. Many of the school officials reported suspicions that the child was dehydrated, had bedsores, poor hygiene, and unchanged diapers.

Image by Brian Turner/Flickr. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons. (CCA-BY-2.0)

Tommy Jones, an attorney representing the child’s father, said, “DHR knew a lot. There were other people that had complained, too. But we’re not going to get into that yet. But they were on notice that this child was being abused, and they left him with his mother in this apartment.” Jones was appointed to oversee the case by Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis after he learned of the case from the child’s father, who lives out of state.

The boy’s mother is listed as a defendant in the case because the child died when he was in her care.

What happened, though? Well, according to the lawsuit, the child was “found unresponsive at Sandpiper Apartments in west Mobile on April 6, 2018.” Four other children were present at the time and were all removed from the apartment. However, the mother was nowhere to be found.  

Despite the fact that police attempted to close the case in August 2018 after ruling that the child died from natural causes, the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office “informed the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences that the case was under criminal investigation.According to the suit, which was filed earlier this week, LeBrawn’s “May 25, 2018, death certificate lists his death as due to natural causes and complications of cerebral palsy.” A year later, “authorities reclassified the death as ‘undetermined’ with the immediate cause of death listed as ‘cerebral palsy with malnutrition and dehydration,’” according to the suit.

When commenting on what the child went through leading up to his death, James said, “It’s incomprehensible that he was left in that home.” He also added that the agency has to do more to improve its policies and procedures to protect children. He said:

“The reason we filed this case is because we don’t want it to happen to anyone else again. DHR, they need to follow their own policies and procedures. They’re not doing that. They’re violating them…It’s happening way too often.”


Alabama DHR hit with suit over death of special-needs 8-year-old in Mobile

Department of Human Resources hit with lawsuit over death of special-needs 8-year-old

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