A trial date was recently set for a wrongful death case involving the deaths of Susan Powell’s sons, Charlie and Braden.
A wrongful death lawsuit involving the deaths of Charlie Powell, 7, and Braden Powell, 5, recently received a trial date of February 10, 2020. According to records from Pierce County, Washington, Superior Court, the trial is expected to last up to 29 days and will include a 12-member jury.
The suit itself was filed back in July 2012 by the grandparents of Charlie and Braden and named the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services and other defendants. The grandparents, Judy and Chuck Cox, are the parents of the boy’s mother, Susan Powell. Susan went missing in December 2009 at the age of 28.
According to the suit filed by the boy’s grandparents, Charlie and Braden “died Feb. 5, 2012, after authorities say Josh Powell — Susan’s husband and the boys’ father — bludgeoned the boys and then burned down his Graham, Washington, home, killing them and himself in the process.” At the time of the tragic deaths, “the boys were under state supervision and were living with Judy and Chuck Cox.” On the day the boys died, a visitation supervisor had taken Charlie and Braden to their father’s home, “but Josh locked the door before the supervisor could enter the home,” according to federal court documents.
The Coxes’ originally filed their lawsuit in Pierce County Superior Court, though it was “appealed in 2017 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit,” after it was dismissed by a U.S. District judge in Washington. Then, earlier this year a “federal court panel affirmed part of the lower court’s ruling, but reversed another part, sending it back to Pierce County Superior Court for trial.” According to the 9th Circuit panel, “individual social workers in the Powell case did not act with negligence in the case.” The ruling further stated:
“(There) was insufficient evidence to show that the social workers recognized, or should have recognized, an objectively substantial risk that (Josh Powell) would physically harm his sons.”
However, the federal court panel did determine there were “material issues of fact in determining whether the Department of Social and Health Services used reasonable care in handling the Powell boys’ case.” The ruling stated:
“Addressing the negligence claims, the panel held that the Department of Social and Health Services had a duty to investigate in order to reasonably ensure that a child is not placed in an abusive situation.”
It turns out the panel found issues with how the department trained its employees to conduct visitations, according to the ruling. Additionally, questions were raised over “whether the department’s actions “caused the boys to be placed in harm’s way.” All these issues and more are expected to be discussed during the February 2020 trial.