The father of a Millard County baby who died has sued state officials, claiming they failed to protect the girl from her mother.
The $5 million suit in the death of Breanna Marie Loveless is against the Utah Attorney General's Office and child-protection officials.It also alleges negligence by advocates who negotiated a 1994 class-action settlement against the Utah Division of Child and Family Services and the three-member panel charged with monitoring the state.
DCFS workers knew 9-month-old Breanna was suffering from abuse and neglect at the hands of her mother, Bobbie Dawn Widdison, 25, and uncle, Travis Widdison, 27, according to the suit filed in 3rd District Court.
The agencies failed to remove the baby from the abusive home before she succumbed to multiple injuries and pneumonia on Feb. 21, 1996, according to the suit.
"Had the state defendants reasonably performed their duties, Breanna would be alive today," says the baby's father, Ricky Lee Sanders of Delta. His suit seeks $5 million from the state.
The allegations are similar to testimony prosecutors have elicited at the Widdisons' trial in Fillmore in the child's death.
The baby's father and grandmother, Maradeen Sanders, first brought Breanna to the attention of DCFS on Jan. 12, 1996, when they noticed she suffered from a severe nasal inflammation, according to trial testimony. The incident prompted the first of Breanna's hospital visits before she died 40 days later.
Division social worker Pamela Goodrich found Sanders' complaints of neglect unfounded. But on Feb. 11, Breanna returned to the emergency room with a broken collar bone, an injury Bobbie Dawn Widdison attributed to a visit to the Sanders' home.
The child was released to the mother on condition that Goodrich be allowed to make twice-daily visits, according to DCFS.
Widdison, however, refused to allow Goodrich into her home after two days of regular visits. On Feb. 21, Goodrich took steps to seek protective supervision, but that night paramedics were summoned to the Widdison home, where they found Breanna dead.
The agency blamed Goodrich for not involving police when she learned of the fracture and for not questioning the Widdisons.