Family sues West Memphis day care for $135 million after 5-year-old died in hot van

MEMPHIS, TN – The family of the 5-year-old who died on a hot day care van in West Memphis is suing the facility for wrongful death.

Christopher Gardner Jr. was found dead in a hot van last month after police say several workers at Ascent Children’s Health Services neglected to do their jobs.

The lawsuit was filed on Thursday at the Crittenden County Courthouse.

Attorney Randy Fishman is representing Christopher’s family and says the lawsuit involving the 5-year-old is personal.

“I mean this is a 5-year-old child who didn’t get to the first grade, by gosh,” said Fishman with Ballin, Ballin & Fishman, PC.

Christopher was found dead after being left in a hot day care van for about eight hours in West Memphis last month.

Police say workers at Ascent Children’s Health Services failed to do their jobs, and four of them are now charged with manslaughter.

“It’s hard to understand, frankly.”

The lawsuit against Ascent, the employees and its corporate entities asks for $135 million. It says these defendants were the direct and proximate cause of Christopher’s death and asks for compensation for their suffering along with medical and funeral expenses.

Fishman says although no dollar amount can replace a child, he’s hopeful this lawsuit can bring change.

“Raise the bar a bit,” he said.

In the meantime, he says Christopher’s mother has shown unbelievable strength as she wakes up and goes to work every day.

“You know her heart is broken in half, you know that, so kudos to that lady that she’s able to do that.”

Fishman says he hopes to find justice for their family.

“There’s always two sides to everything. I’ll be interested to see what the other side to this is.”

The plaintiffs’ attorneys couldn’t give us the next hearing or a trial date, but the summons does say that the defendants have 30 days to respond or 60 days to respond if they’re incarcerated.