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Napa city and county to pay $5 million to settle lawsuit with family over 3-year-old girl’s death

Napa city and county to pay $5 million to settle lawsuit with family over 3-year-old girl’s death
Kayleigh Slusher, 3, pictured in an undated family photo, died in 2014 from multiple blunt-force injuries. Her mother and her mother's boyfriend were convicted of murder. (Slusher family)

The city of Napa and Napa County will pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the father and grandmother of a 3-year-old girl who was tortured and killed in 2014.

Kayleigh Slusher died in a Napa apartment in January 2014 after being neglected and abused by her mother, Sarah Krueger, and her mother’s boyfriend, Ryan Warner. Both were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison, according to court records.

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After Kayleigh’s death, the girl’s body was stuffed in a duffel bag and stored in the freezer for three days before she was placed in her bed, where police ultimately found her. The girl’s cause of death was multiple blunt-force injuries to her head, torso and extremities. She had suffered a broken rib and damage to her small intestine and was covered in bruises before she died, authorities said at the time.

Kayleigh’s father, Jason Slusher — who was serving a prison sentence when his daughter was killed — and her grandmother, Robin Slusher, filed a lawsuit against the city and county in 2015 alleging that despite obvious signs of abuse and neglect, police and child welfare officials did not intervene or remove Kayleigh from her mother’s home.

The lawsuit said that in the three weeks before Kayleigh died, Napa police and child services had been called to the girl’s home five times regarding possible abuse and drug use.

When officers visited the home, they “would have seen that she was covered in bruises and in excruciating pain from a broken rib and the intestinal infection that was slowly killing her,” but they did nothing, according to a statement from Slusher’s attorneys.

The settlement, which calls for the city and county to each pay $2.5 million to the Slushers over several years, ends a legal battle that has raged for more than three years.

“While the county and Child Welfare Services maintains that CWS followed state law when responding to the complaint of abuse or neglect … we came to the decision that it was best to end the litigation and settle the case,” said Deputy County Executive Officer Molly Rattigan.

Rattigan said Child Welfare Services has implemented changes to more intensely review calls to its child abuse hotline.

The Napa Police Department also has improved its policies for reporting suspected child abuse and boosted training for officers and dispatchers since the girl’s death, according to a statement from the city.

“Kayleigh Slusher’s death was a terrible tragedy,” the city wrote. “The City and County of Napa have committed to doing everything in their power to prevent and protect other children from suffering child abuse and neglect.”

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