The parents of a 1-year-old boy who died nearly a year ago have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the owners of a Lincoln home day care.

Police said there's still an active investigation into Zachary Taylor's Jan. 3 death, and no one has been charged criminally.

But in the lawsuit filed Monday in Lancaster County District Court, Anthony and Elizabeth Taylor allege Daniel and Lacy Stattler, who ran Stay N Learn child care in their home at 1029 S. 35th St., were responsible for Zachary's death.

The Taylors' attorney, John Fowles, said Anthony Taylor dropped off his son at Stay N Learn at about 8:15 that morning.

Police said both Lacy and Daniel Stattler watched Zachary that day, and an incident report indicated he died between 9:50 a.m. and 3:37 p.m., when Lacy Stattler called 911.

She later told police she thought Zachary was sleeping and found him unresponsive when she checked on him.

Rescue workers took the boy to a hospital, where doctors found a skull fracture and bleeding on his brain.

Within an hour, he was pronounced dead.

An autopsy showed "significant evidence of recent trauma to the head and trauma to his shoulders."

It also showed Zachary had older injuries to his skull that were healing, according to a search warrant served on the Stattlers' house.

In the days that followed, the Lancaster County Attorney's Office made it clear in juvenile court filings that they suspected either Daniel or Lacy Stattler was responsible for the injuries, and sought to terminate their parental rights to their two children, who have been placed in foster care.

The Stattlers are fighting the case and are set for trial next month.

Attempts to reach their attorneys Thursday were unsuccessful.

In court records, Chief Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Alicia Henderson alleges one of them either caused the injuries or failed to provide adequate care, contributing to Zachary's death.

In the wrongful death lawsuit, Fowles makes similar allegations on behalf of the Taylors -- specifically that the Stattlers caused his fatal injuries either physically or by their negligence.

They are seeking $4,100 in medical, funeral and burial expenses, plus unspecified general damages.

To be successful, they would have to prove it by clear and convincing evidence, a burden of proof less than "beyond a reasonable doubt," the standard required in criminal cases.

Earlier this year, Lincoln Police Capt. Jon Sundermeier said that while investigators suspected one of the Stattlers, they didn't know which caused the injuries, which is a problem in a criminal case.

"You have to know which one it was," he said at the time. "We're not there that we're able to say who in the household is responsible for that."

Nearly a year after Zachary's death, Officer Katie Flood said that's where the criminal investigation stands.

There simply is not enough to go forward with a case now, Flood said, but charges still could come.

"That's the hope and possibility of any active investigation."

Reach Lori Pilger at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com or follow her on Twitter at LJSpilger.

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