A Colorado federal appeals court has ruled that two Denver child protection workers will face a wrongful death lawsuit in the case of a seven year old boy who died of dehydration and starvation.
According to the Denver Post, the child protection workers are accused of failing to properly investigate the suspected abuse of Chandler Grafner, who was found dead, locked in the closet of his foster parents’ home in May 2007, 20 pounds underweight and suffering from severe dehydration.
A year earlier, the the Jefferson County Department of Human Services was sent Chandler to live with the boy’s mother’s ex boyfriend and his then girlfriend. The home was located in Denver, and workers from Denver Human Services (DHS) were the ones who investigated reports of abuse in the home, and concluded that the reports were unfounded.
Staff members from Chandler’s school then filed four written complaints with DHS about suspected abuse after Chandler had a prolonged absence from school. In violation of state policy, DHS’s child protection workers did not investigate those complaints.
Jon Phillips, the man Chandler was living with, was sentenced to life in prison for his role in Chandler’s death, and his girlfriend, Sarah Berry was sentenced to 48 years in prison for her part in the boy’s death.