A Scott County day-care provider has been sued for negligence by the parents of a 3-month-old boy who died while under her care last February.

The wrongful death lawsuit, filed on Wednesday, alleges that Karen P. Johnson violated state law and safe sleep practices when she used a travel-size pillow to prop up the infant, Grant Maloney, during a nap at her day-care home in Elko. The infant, who was also swaddled in a blanket, rolled over on his face and died from asphyxiation.

"The negligence and breach of standard of care ... created not only an unsafe, but treacherous sleep environment for infant Grant such that death was reasonably certain to occur," according to the lawsuit filed by Susan Maloney, the infant's mother. She sued on behalf of her family, including her husband, Russell Maloney.

Johnson did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment. Her attorney could not be reached.

Maloney's death is one of eight at licensed day cares in Minnesota this year, all of them at small in-home facilities. A state panel that reviewed child-care deaths over the past decade issued a report with a series of safety recommendations last week.

The panel's report, which mirrored many of the findings in an ongoing Star Tribune investigation into a sharp rise in day-care deaths in the past five years, found that three-fourths of the 86 deaths since 2002 involved sleeping infants. Many cases involved providers who failed to follow safety standards.

Johnson is appealing the revocation of her day-care license by the state, according to a state licensing website. The revocation order issued by licensing officials in June said Johnson had received safe sleep training but failed to follow it. Placing a pillow with a sleeping infant and swaddling him with a blanket would violate safety standards meant to reduce the risk of death.

Court records show the Maloney family has reached a separate, partial settlement with one of Johnson's insurance providers.

Brad Schrade • 612-673-4777