GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) - A federal appeals court has ruled that state workers cannot be held responsible for the 2007 death of a 9-year-old boy at the hands of his father.
Oliver Braman killed himself, his wife and his son Nicholas -- whom Braman had drugged -- in October 2007 by filling a room in their Montcalm County home with carbon monoxide. At the time, Braman had recently failed to show up for sentencing for abusing two of his other children.
Nicholas's mother Rebecca Jasinski sued the Department of Human Services and several employees in 2010, saying they should have removed Nicholas from his father and stepmother's care.
Her lawsuit claimed there had been complaints about Braman for nine years and pointed out that the Office of Children's Ombudsman had found that Children's Protective Services had not properly investigated several of the complaints against Braman and therefore failed to properly protect Braman's children.
But a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that CPS workers were not the immediate cause of Nicholas' death -- Braman was. As a result, the court decided, the workers could not be sued.
Nicholas's death led to a new Michigan law that established rules for how child welfare workers in different counties must communicate, among other things.
A 2010 Associated Press report contributed to this story.
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