Chandler Grafner Lawsuit Can Move Forward, Says Colorado Court
On December 19, 2012, the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of appeals ruled that Bachus & Schanker, LLC's case against two Denver child protection workers could move forward. The caseworkers are accused of failing to investigate suspicions of abuse in the weeks leading up to the starvation and dehydration death of seven-year-old Chandler Grafner.
Chandler died in May 2007 on the day that he was discovered locked in a closet in his foster parents' home. The Jefferson County Department of Human Services had placed Chandler in the foster home in May 2006, and caseworkers determined that subsequent reports of abuse of the child at the foster home were unfounded. The child's school itself filed four written complaints in April 2007 documenting their suspicions of abuse and child protection staff failed to investigate the referral.
The court rejected the argument that the caseworkers should be immune from prosecution.
Kyle Bachus, the attorney representing Chandler's parents and his estate, commented, "We are very pleased with the opportunity to move forward on behalf of Chandler Grafner."
Court Decision Supports Constitutional Rights of Foster Care Children
Though the case is far from over, the December 19 decision opens a pathway to proceed to the next step in the process of getting justice for Chandler. It supports the constitutional rights of children in foster care and sets legal precedent for all 10th Circuit federal courts, which includes six western states.
Bachus further commented, "The ruling reconfirms the duties and obligations to kids who are removed by the state from their homes. It is a powerful tool moving forward and it provides a greater level of protection than existed before today."