INDIANAPOLIS - Jean Seal, the biological mother of Skyler Dunn, has filed a lawsuit against the Indiana Department of Child Services, claiming the agency was negligent in the child’s death.
Skyler Dunn, 2, died May 27 after police say the child’s stepmother, Autumn Dunn, dropped the baby on his head twice because he wouldn’t stop crying.
In addition to DCS, the lawsuit also names Autumn Dunn and Allen Dunn, Skyler’s biological father.
The lawsuit alleges Seal and Skyler Dunn’s doctor both reported suspected child abuse to the Indiana Department of Child Services, and the agency conducted at least one investigation in early 2012.
DCS concluded reports of child abuse were unsubstantiated, the lawsuit said.
“(DCS), its agents, employees, and representatives, were negligent in failing to properly conduct its investigation into reports of abuse against Skyler W. Dunn,” read the lawsuit.
The complaint also alleges DCS failed to communicate with the baby’s medical providers or to consult any child abuse experts regarding the injuries.
"This tragedy demonstrates one of the toughest challenges social workers face, in that DCS did conduct an assessment, but at the time of that action, was unable to find evidence that would substantiate child abuse as defined by Indiana law,” wrote DCS spokeswoman Stephanie McFarland in an email to Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney.
The lawsuit also alleges Autumn Dunn failed to exercise reasonable care in caring for Skyler Dunn and failed to seek timely medical care for the baby.
Autumn Dunn was sentenced to 30 years after admitting to intentionally dropping her stepson, causing the child’s death.
Dunn pleaded guilty to felony neglect in exchange for six other charges against her being dropped, and admitted to lying to employees at Riley Hospital about how Skyler came to be injured.
The lawsuit seeks damages for Dunn’s burial and funeral, counseling, attorney’s fees and other expenses.