Judge Rules Father’s Wrongful Death Suit Against Child Services be Seen by Trial Jury
Chelan County Superior Court Judge Kristin Ferrera struck down the Department of Children, Youth, and Families’ (DCYF) motion for summary judgment Friday, in a father’s wrongful death lawsuit against the department.
On May 26, 2020, father of 2-year-old Rustin Atkerson, Ian Atkerson, filed a wrongful death suit against DCYF, claiming they failed to remove his son from an abusive household, after he made multiple calls to Child Protective Services (CPS).
In August 2017, Rustin succumbed to a fatal brain injury that he sustained while staying with his mother, Elaine Angelica Hurd, and her boyfriend.
Hurd was sentenced for felony mistreatment of her son back in 2019.
Months before his death, multiple healthcare providers, family members, and his father reported instances of abuse to CPS.
DCYF’s legal representation, Assistant Attorney General Joshua Schaer, argued that although Rustin’s death was incredibly grievous, the department was not liable.
Schaer also made the argument that CPS did not leave Rustin in an abusive household since the parents technically had split custody at the time of Rustin’s death.
Atkerson’s attorney Brian Smith rebutted with the fact that DCYF should not escape liability just because Atkerson entered into a final parent plan the same week the department’s negligent investigation started.
Smith also argued that DCYF failed to act quickly when Atkerson made several calls to CPS and that they failed to act after they placed Rustin in a harmful living situation.
Judge Ferrera denied DCYF’s motion for summary judgment and dismissal and that the case will be seen before a trial jury.
Currently there is no set hearing date in place.