(Trends Wide) — A baby girl was left alone in a room with her deceased mother for five days at a New York homeless shelter and was found in desperate need of food, water and basic necessities, according to a lawsuit filed by the girl’s father. .
The New York City Department of Homeless Services (NYCDHS) was sued by Quraan Laboy, who alleges that the agency — which was caring for his one-year-old daughter at the time — neglected the girl and did not follow shelter protocols, according to a lawsuit filed in New York Supreme Court.
The girl and her deceased mother, Shelbi Westlake, were discovered on the night of July 25, 2021, after someone called building security about an “unpleasant odor” coming from Westlake’s room, according to an incident report. of the NYCDHS listed in the court file.
Building security personnel called emergency medical services, who entered Westlake’s room and pronounced the 26-year-old dead, according to the incident report. Her daughter was found under her bed and was taken to a hospital for evaluation, according to the report.
Trends Wide has contacted the medical examiner’s office for the official date and cause of Westlake’s death.
Court documents allege NYCDHS was negligent in failing to follow protocols regarding child custody, resident placement, maintenance of operations, management, inspection and control of the city-run shelter where Westlake was residing at the time of the incident. The baby was covered in feces and was in dire need of food and water, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit against the agency amounts to $5 million, according to court documents.
“This was a heartbreaking tragedy and we offer our condolences to the family during this difficult time,” a spokesperson for the Department of Social Services-DHS agency said in a statement Sunday, adding that the city will review the lawsuit when it is received.
The circumstances surrounding the mother’s death are still being investigated, the DHS spokesperson told Trends Wide, adding that while the agency cannot discuss specific details of the case due to client privacy and confidentiality laws noted by New York Social Services Law, the five days stated in the lawsuit are inaccurate.
The agency contacted the shelter after the incident, the spokesperson said, and corrective action was taken to address the concerns outlined in the lawsuit. The shelter is now required to conduct same-night wellness checks for residents who haven’t signed a nightly roster, the spokesman said.