Lexington couple sues church day care

A Lexington couple has sued a local church day care center, alleging that workers gave their child over-the-counter pain medicine without their permission.

Paul and Sara Felice are seeking more than $25,000 in damages from Southern Hills United Methodist Church, which operates a day-school program for children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday in Fayette Circuit Court, says an unknown Southern Hills day-school worker or workers gave their child Orajel, a topical oral pain reliever, and acetaminophen, an ingredient found in over-the-counter medicines including Tylenol. The child, who was 5 months old at the time, has suffered permanent injury, the suit says.

Bill McKinney, Southern Hills' business administrator, issued a statement defending the day-school program, which has provided service in Lexington for more than 20 years.

"We believe the vast majority of our parents are pleased with the service we provide, and are disappointed whenever we do not meet their expectations," the release said. "We take every parent's concern seriously, and address them in accordance with state child care regulations."

The statement did not discuss any details of the case.

One of the Felices' attorneys said that Sara Felice made an unannounced visit last week to the day school on Harrodsburg Road and discovered that her child was in distress. The lawsuit says Sara Felice noticed a "medicine like smell" around the child, and an empty 15-millileter bottle of acetaminophen, which "would have contained over 30 doses."

Paul Felice deferred comment to his attorneys.

Alan J. Statman, who represents the Felices, said he thought the acetaminophen was children's-strength Tylenol.

"Whether it was baby medicine or not, day care workers do not have authorization to give children medicine without parents' permission," Statman said.

Colleen Hegge, another attorney for the Felices, said no specific law is being referenced in the case, but there are "multiple statutes" against giving children medicine without a parent's knowledge.

"The concern is just like anything with schools. ... They have to be authorized to administer medicine," Hegge said.

The Felices said in the lawsuit that the child suffered injuries from exposure to the medicines, including "great physical and mental pain and anguish."

"It is anticipated that the (Felices') child will in the future continue to suffer great physical and mental pain and anguish," the suit says.

Hegge said the extent of the injuries is still being investigated.

In December, Statman, Harris & Eyrich, the Cincinnati firm representing the Felices, filed a similar lawsuit against a Cincinnati church day care program.

Hegge said both sets of parents have told her "it's not about the money."

"It's about making parents aware of what is going on in their day care," she said.

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