Lawyers acting on behalf of missing Utah mother Susan Cox Powell filed a $20 million claim for damages Tuesday against the state Department of Social and Health Services, accusing the agency of negligence in the deaths of Powell’s two young sons.
Seattle attorneys Anne Bremner and James S. Rogers said they plan to investigate how DSHS handled its supervision the Powell children, Charlie, 7, and Braden, 5, especially their visitations with their father, Josh.
Josh Powell, who was being investigated in his wife’s disappearance, killed the boys and himself Feb. 5 in a Pierce County home.
“We will be conducting extensive discovery to follow up on the facts we’ve learned about the actions of DSHS,” Rogers said. “It is clear that DSHS knew, or should have known, about the danger Josh Powell presented to the safety of his children and failed to take actions that could have prevented this tragedy.”
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. Investigators were seeking evidence of Susan Powell’s disappearance but found pornography and other lewd material on Steven Powell’s computers and digital storage devices.
Susan Powell went missing in December 2009 and is presumed dead. A guardian ad litem has been appointed to represent her interests in the claim.
The state has 60 days to respond to the claim before a lawsuit can be filed. The agency generally does not comment on pending litigation.