SOUTH CONNELLSVILLE - Several area parents have filed a civil lawsuit against five YMCA Child Development Center workers who allegedly gave pickling salt to their children as a form of discipline.
Through their legal counsel - attorneys Alan Perer and Brian W. DelVecchio of the Pittsburgh law firm of Swensen Perer & Kontos - parents Brian and Janean Ansell, Shannon Partridge, Jessica Harr, Rodney and Lori Humbertson, Amber Doppelheur, Ryan Timms and Hillary Hamborsky have requested that a jury hear the matter on behalf of their children.
Named as defendants in the lawsuit are five employees, including Stephanie Griffith, Kristen Homes, Ann Lancaster, Derek Hillen and Kerri Trich, along with their employer, the Regional Family YMCA of Laurel Highlands and the National Council of Young Men's Christian Associations of the United States of America.
According to the court document, day-care center assistant group supervisor Rebecca DeWitt shared a conversation with Partridge that revealed Griffin had given a 6-year-old child alum as a means of discipline in January 2009.
Alum is a pickling salt that when ingested causes a burning sensation in the mouth or stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, nausea and choking. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it also is corrosive upon ingestion.
Alum may cause expressions of fear and behavioral changes in young children when exposed to the substance as adverse stimuli, the court document states.
When Partridge questioned her two children about any incidents involving the pickling salt, she was told that a white powder had been given to them and that "it hurt their mouth."
In the court document, Partridge said that her children had experienced unexplained stomach pain, vomiting and other ailments. One of the children had also experienced nightmares.
The lawsuit charges each of the employees and the national and local YMCA with negligence, assault and battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
DelVecchio said the lawsuit was filed after the YMCA failed to fully acknowledge the workers' abuse of the youngsters.
Fayette County Court Judge Steve P. Leskinen has been assigned the case.
The defendants have 20 days to file a response.