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Lawsuit filed in 2019 Limestone Co. hot car death

Updated: Mar. 11, 2021 at 10:34 PM CST
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LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - The aunt of a 13-month-old child who died in a hot car in 2019 is suing Alabama’s Department of Human Resources, Limestone County DHR employees, and the child’s mother.

The lawsuit, filed by Laura Barnett on behalf of the child’s estate, says that DHR employees were negligent in allowing the child to stay with his mother because she had a history of arrests and drug abuse.

13-month-old Casen Case died in October of 2019 after being left in a hot car by his mother Elizabeth Anne Case, according to criminal investigators. Case currently faces a capital murder charge.

The lawsuit gives new details about what led to Casen’s death, alleging that his mother Elizabeth spent the night before his death driving around while he was buckled into an unsecured car-seat. The lawsuit alleges that Elizabeth Case returned home around 5:40 a.m. the next morning, and went to bed, leaving her son Casen in the front seat of the vehicle. Casen’s grandmother found the boy in the car later that day around 1:30 p.m. when the outside temperature had reached 97 degrees.

Casen was ultimately taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead from hyperthermia, an abnormally high body temperature, according to the suit.

Casen, who had an “extensive history of drug abuse,” was reported for abuse and neglect to DHR multiple times according to the lawsuit.

But the lawsuit also alleges DHR ignored those complaints and did not properly investigate them.

Alabama’s DHR department is named in the suit, along with Tracy E. Miller, the Director of the Limestone County DHR, Stephanie Pinkard the Program Supervisor at Limestone DHR, and Elizabeth Case the boy’s mother.

Tommy E. James is the attorney representing the plaintiff Laura Barnett. James has filed multiple lawsuits against Alabama DHR and various county DHR’s along with other lawsuits on behalf of child abuse victims.

“She’s been charged with multiple driving under the influences, multiple property thefts, multiple possession of receiving stolen properties, domestic violence, burglary, fraud, multiple possession of controlled substances.,” James said.

James says Elizabeth Case’s criminal history combined with multiple reports of alleged abuse was more than enough evidence for DHR to remove Casen from her care.

“That ought to cause fire alarms to go off, red flags everywhere,” he said.

Before being sent to jail for her son’s death, Elizabeth Case was serving time for another incident.

“Between the time she gets out and the time of Casen’s death, about four months, there are multiple calls to DHR about allegations of abuse and neglect against Ms. Case, and they didn’t act on those reports,” he said.

“The workers at DHR in Limestone county didn’t do their job. If they had done their job, Casen would still be here with us today,” James said.

James says this lawsuit is difficult for the family, but it’s an important one.

“I think it would certainly help if they felt like they made a change for the better so this doesn’t happen to another innocent child.”

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