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Cuyahoga County Council approves $3 million settlement to father of Aniya-Day Garrett

Posted at 9:47 PM, Jun 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 10:21:49-04

CLEVELAND — Cuyahoga County Council approved a $3 million settlement to the father of Aniya-Day Garrett during its June 23 meeting.

Mickhal Garrett told News 5 no amount of money will ever replace the loss of his 4-year-old daughter, and he's now demanding Cuyahoga County provide him with monthly updates on children services improvements that he said are needed to prevent the mistakes that caused the death of his daughter.

“Because child lives do matter, there’s no reason why a little 4-year old girl, who spoke out and said help me was not helped, and that happened to be my beautiful princess Aniya Marie Garrett," Garrett said.

Garrett filed the wrongful-death lawsuit in April of 2019 against county social workers and private daycare employees among others he believes could have prevented Aniya’s murder.

The 55-page wrongful death lawsuit and petition for discovery stated that county social workers and private daycare owners and employees seemingly failed Aniya at every turn. Leaning on a previously released state Child Fatality Review conducted by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, the wrongful death lawsuit alleges county social workers and their supervisors failed to even conduct basic tasks associated with the child welfare system, including conducting adequate interviews, case assessments and follow up reviews.

The lawsuit claims county social workers misclassified reports of suspected abuse; failed to perform comprehensive safety risk assessments; failed to notify Aniya’s father of the alleged abuse; ignored a documented history of physical abuse; ignored Aniya’s own complaints that “mommy hit [her]”; failed to conduct appropriate interviews with third parties; failed to investigate signs of physical abuse and trauma; incorrectly closed cases of reported and substantiated physical abuse without a proper or thorough assessment; and failed to remove Aniya from a violent and dangerous environment.

The county social workers named in the lawsuit also allegedly failed to follow department policy and applicable state statute.
Aniya’s mother, Sierra Day, and her mother’s boyfriend, Deonte Lewis, were convicted of aggravated murder, murder, felonious assault, permitting child abuse, three counts of endangering children and tampering with evidence in 2019 after evidence showed the girl was severely neglected and abused before her death, which was caused by a blunt-force-trauma-induced stroke.

Court records list the defendants in the lawsuit as Cuyahoga County, County Executive Armond Budish, agents of Cuyahoga County Division of Children and Family Services, Aniya's daycares and her killers, Sierra Day and Deonte Lewis.

In Ohio, county agencies like DCFS have immunity from civil litigation. Garrett's attorneys instead filed suit against the specific parties involved from those agencies.

The settlement is now headed to a Cuyahoga County Probate Judge for final approval over the next 45 days.