People of Northwest Public Radio
Susan Powell's Family Suing DSHS
Fri August 3, 2012
Susan Powell's Family Plans To Sue DSHS Over Boys' Deaths
The family of Susan Powell plans to sue the state of Washington for negligence. They blame state workers for the fact that Josh Powell was able to kill himself and his two sons in Pierce County last February.
The legal filing comes in the wake of a report commissioned by the state Department of Social and Health Services. It was released Thursday, and scrutinized the boys’ deaths. The report praised the conduct of state workers but gave recommendations for changes.
When the boys were taken from their father, Josh Powell was a “person of interest” in his wife Susan Powell’s disappearance. The report finds that there should have been more collaboration between law enforcement and child welfare workers. It says police should have been notified before the boys visited their father’s home.
Powell blew up his house after the boys arrived for a supervised visit.
Seattle attorney Anne Bremner is representing Susan Powell’s parents in their potential lawsuit against DSHS. The DSHS report concludes that the boys’ deaths may not have been preventable. Bremner says they were.
“There were probably about 20 times there could have been a different path taken, where there were red flags and considerable concerns raised about whether or not these boys were safe with Josh Powell," Bremner says.
Bremner says if visitation were allowed at all, it should have been outside the home. The DSHS report notes that visits initially occurred in other locations. They were moved to Powell’s home because of the publicity around his wife’s disappearance, and because Powell acted like a good parent and complied with court orders.
DSHS officials say at the time, they had no hard evidence to justify keeping the boys away from their father.
Copyright 2012 KUOW
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