Seattle attorneys James S. Rogers and Anne Bremner are preparing to file a claim for damages against the state of Washington on behalf of missing Utah mother Susan Cox Powell. The claim will accuse the state of negligence in the deaths of Powell’s sons, Charlie and Braden.
Rogers and Bremner filed paperwork in Pierce County Superior Court on Monday seeking to have a guardian ad litem appointed to represent Powell’s interests in a “cause of action for injuries allegedly sustained as a result of negligence of State of Washington, Department of Social and Health Services, resulting in the death of her children …”
The boy’s father, Josh Powell, attacked them with a hatchet at a home in Pierce County earlier this year before setting fire to the house, killing the three of them. DSHS officials were monitoring Josh Powell as he worked to regain custody of his sons, who were taken by the state in September 2011 after detectives raided the home of their grandfather, Steven Craig Powell.
A Superior Court commissioner signed an order Monday appointing Seattle attorney William Dussault to act as Susan Cox Powell’s guardian ad litem until any litigation is resolved. Susan Cox Powell has been missing and presumed dead since December 2009 when she disappeared under mysterious circumstances from her suburban Salt Lake City home. Josh Powell was being investigated in her disappearance at the time of his death, but he was never arrested or charged with a crime in his wife’s disappearance.
Rogers said Thursday he expects to file the claim — the precursor to a lawsuit — next week. DSHS does not comment on pending litigation.
“This didn’t have to happen,” Rogers said of the deaths of Charlie, 7, and Braden, 5.
DSHS released a report Thursday detailing the findings of a “child fatality review” into Charlie’s and Braden’s deaths. The report found that DSHS officials come have done a better job monitoring Josh Powell’s behavior and consulting with law enforcement but that their handling of the case “was consistent with and sometimes exceeded accepted standards for child welfare practice and procedures …”
“The evidence of negligence is considerably stronger than what was released in the report,” he said.