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HOUSTON A mother whose 3-year-old son died in a Houston day care fire has filed a lawsuit against the day care operator, the day care operator s parents and the State of Texas.

Tiffany Dickerson, mother of fire victim Shomari Dickerson, is suing for medical expenses, funeral expenses and punitive damages. Dickerson s 2-year-old daughter, Makayla, survived the fire, but suffered severe burns.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, claims that day care operator Jessica Tata was negligent when she allegedly left seven children unattended while she went to Target. The fire started while Tata was gone, killing four of the children.

The lawsuit also claims that Tata s parents were negligent in helping Tata establish the day care and in allegedly helping her flee to Nigeria after the fire.

There is some indication that her parents were involved in the operation of the daycare center with her, and if that proves not to be the case, then they will be dismissed, said Michael Gallagher, the attorney for the Dickerson family.

In addition, the lawsuit alleges that the State of Texas was negligent in licensing Tata s day care, claiming that if the state had investigated Tata thoroughly, they would have found that she had a history of arson and was unfit to care for children.

Gallagher is also checking out whether the stove where the fire started was defective and whether curtains in the home may have fueled the fire.

Tata is facing multiple criminal charges in connection with the fire, including manslaughter, reckless injury to a child, child abandonment and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

She was arrested in Nigeria on Saturday and extradited back to Texas early Tuesday morning.
Tata appeared in court Wednesday for an arraignment, where she pleaded not guilty, and was being held in isolation at the Harris County Jail.

The lawsuit did not specify how much money Dickerson is seeking in damages.

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