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Lawsuit accusing DHS in toddler's death to move forward

Oklahoman Modified: April 24, 2008 at 5:38 pm •  Published: April 24, 2008

Johnson, Hunter and Burgess — all workers in the Lincoln County DHS office — had sought immunity from the lawsuit, claiming Briggs had failed to allege facts demonstrating that affirmative conduct on their part created or increased the danger to Kelsey.

The three also claimed that Briggs' lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City, did not meet legal standards for a claim that government employees created the danger resulting in injury.

DHS Assistant General Counsel Joseph Strealy said the agency could still ask a judge in Oklahoma City to grant immunity to the three workers. Strealy said DHS has not decided whether it will ask the appeals court to reconsider the ruling.

Briggs' lawsuit also lists Eastern Oklahoma Youth Services Inc. as a defendant. Strealy said DHS contracted with Eastern Oklahoma Youth Services to visit Smith's home.

Briggs' lawsuit alleges that Lynch and Bonner instructed at least one person to stop reporting ongoing abuse against Kelsey.


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