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Florida family wins $21 million for baby’s death in hot day care van, but insurer will not pay

The insurance company says Ewing’s Love & Hope preschool's policy was cancelled weeks before the 4-month-old baby died.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The video with this story is from a prior, related report.

The family of a baby who died in a hot day care van won a sizable $21 million wrongful death verdict, but it’s not clear if that money will ever be paid. A new federal lawsuit shows the day care’s insurance company is refusing the claim, saying the policy was cancelled weeks before the child died.

The case surrounds the May 2019 death of Brooklyn Blount. The 4-month-old died at Ewing’s Love & Hope preschool on Jacksonville’s Westside when she was inadvertently left in a hot van for nearly five hours. Brooklyn’s mother, Lancia Isaac, sued and in January won a $21.6 million verdict.

But court records show Markel Insurance Company, who is being asked to pay that amount, is denying the claim saying, “the policy was cancelled prior to May 22, 2019 [the date of the child’s death] and, thus, there is no coverage.”

The company says the day care’s insurance policy was cancelled for nonpayment on May 6, 2019, “thus, there is no coverage for the claims.”

It continues, “even if coverage exists (which it does not), the plaintiffs’ damages in this action are limited by the Policy’s limits of liability, which include the Commercial General Liability Coverage Part’s $1 million per occurrence limit of liability and the Professional Liability Coverage part’s $1 million limit of liability for Each Wrongful Act.”

Pajcic & Pajcic law firm, which represents Isaac, declined to comment in detail because the case is in litigation, saying only "the wheels of justice can turn slowly sometimes." 

First Coast News reached out to attorneys for the insurer, as well as attorneys for Ewing's Love & Hope preschool and Isaac, and will update this story with any response.

In a 2021 interview, Isaac said the years since her child’s death have been “a struggle. There are days where things are great. There are days where I miss my child like crazy. There are days I say, ‘Why me?’"

Day care co-owner Darryl Ewing was initially charged with aggravated manslaughter for the child’s death, but worked out a negotiated plea deal with the state. Under the terms of the deal, he must report to the Duval County Jail on the weekend following the anniversary of Brooklyn’s death for the seven years and spend Friday night to Sunday morning behind bars.

Ewing will also face restrictions regarding his contact with children and can never operate a day care again. Ewing has declined to discuss the case but was reportedly distraught after the incident. His arrest report indicated “he wanted to harm himself.”

The Lennox Avenue day care was closed by the state following the child’s death.

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