CLEVELAND — The parents of a 22-month-girl who died in June while in foster care gathered outside the Jane Edna Hunter building on Monday to announce a lawsuit they have filed against the Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services.
Shean Williams and Stanley Jackson, of The Cochran Firm, filed a lawsuit against Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services on behalf of the family.
"The Cuyahoga County Children and Family Services did not improve the life of Mandisa Sizemore, did not give her the attention and care that she deserved, and as a result, she is not here with her loving parents," said Williams.
According to the law firm, on May 15, Mandisa Sizemore was placed in the temporary custody of a foster mother and was under the care of Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services. She was allegedly left unattended and choked to death on playing cards on June 16, 2020.
Her parents, Dayou Bruce and William Sizemore Jr., were allegedly not notified of their daughter’s death by either the foster mother or the case worker. Their attorney said it was only when the couple went to DCFS in person on June 17 to inquire about their child's well-being that they were told about Mandisa's death.
According to court records, the baby was taken because Bruce allegedly has mental health issues and smokes marijuana sometimes; dad was allegedly violent.
Court documents show they fixed their problems, and got Mandisa back, but after an argument, DCFS was called again and May 15 is the last time either of them saw her. A month later, she was dead.
The attorneys said on Monday that the foster mother has not been charged and an investigation into Mandisa's death has been completed, but the firm said it did not receive any information on the case. Williams said the purpose of the lawsuit was to get full transparency regarding the death of Mandisa and to hold everyone involved accountable.
"They lost the future of their family. They lost their love, the beautiful little girl. And as you can see, they miss her," he said.
The family hopes to see change within the division of children and family services.
"It hasn't been easy. You know, every day it's something different, just take every day, day by day. We miss her very much. And, you know, hopefully, it doesn't happen again, you know?" said Bruce, Mandisa's mother.
The attorneys for Mandisa’s family say the foster family in question is caring for another child now, News 5 asked the county to confirm that detail, but it hasn’t answered.
The county tells News 5 it will respond to the lawsuit when it receives it.