Dearborn Heights family sues Head Start after 3-year-old killed by lunch table

The family of a 3-year-old Dearborn Heights girl killed by a falling table in a school gym announced Thursday they're filing a $10 million lawsuit

They claim the tragedy could have been prevented and their daughter should still be alive.


"A lunch table, similar to ones I used in grade school 50 years ago, came loose and hit Lilliana in the head and killed her," said attorney Gregory Rohl.

The last time Lilliana's mother saw her young daughter was back in January when she dropped her off at Dearborn Heights Head Start.

Now Tabitha Kerr is forever changed after getting that horrific phone call.

"I wish I could go back in time. I think the only thing that's going to really help her is knowing her daughter didn't die in vain," Rohl said.

Rohl, along with attorney James Duff, filed a lawsuit against: St. Albert The Great Catholic Church, the Archdiocese of Detroit, and Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency and Head Start.

"Not only could this have been prevented, but how many more children are going to be victimized because of the situation?" Rohl said.

Kerr's attorneys say the lunch tables hadn't been used in roughly five years and the table had an old mat propped against it.

Rohl calls it a "rig job," with screws loose and dried paint clogging the latches, preventing them to lock into place.

He questions the inspection of the gym in late 2016, and says it was simply a disaster waiting to happen.

"These tables weighted between 80 and 300 pounds so when they come down and there's nothing to stop them, it's going to hurt no matter who it is," Rohl said.

While the church will not comment, officials with the Head Start program tell Fox 2: "We understand a timely resolution is what is in the best interest of the Kerr family and this remains a top priority for our organization."

Meanwhile, Head Start is back open with the gym area sealed off.

Tabitha Kerr, surrounded by friends and family, is now hoping her daughter's death will prevent another.

In addition to serving that lawsuit, Rohl and his team plan to take a closer look at that table and sit down with lawmakers next week.