UPDATED: Family files suit against DHR for boy’s death

Published 3:17 pm Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Relatives of a boy allegedly killed by his mother have filed suit against Chilton County Department of Human Resources employees, and DHR has subsequently brought the boys parents into the case.

Authorities have said Johnny Michael Campbell, 11, was shot by his mother, Ann Campbell, in June and died from the wounds.

The original suit alleges that DHR employees Trayce Cain and Jennifer Childress “received notification of suspected neglect and abuse of Johnny Michael Campbell … (who) was allowed to remain in the custody of his mother, Ann Campbell…and by doing so, affirmatively placed Johnny Michael Campbell in a position of danger that he would not have otherwise faced.”

DHR Director Marilyn Colson is also named in the suit, because of her role as a supervisor of the other two employees and as the administrator of child welfare programs in the county pursuant to state law.

The suit was filed on Oct. 11, and on Nov. 8 the defendants filed an answer, denying the allegations and questioning the court’s jurisdiction and the grounds on which the suit is based.

The plaintiff alleges DHR received information in April 2010 about instances of suspected abuse and neglect of the boy, including violence, arrests and abuse of controlled and/or uncontrolled substances. This allegation is also denied in the defendants’ answer.

The plaintiff demands damages against the defendants “in an amount to be determined by a struck jury.”

Several attempts to reach attorneys representing the family of Johnny Michael Campbell and DHR were unsuccessful Tuesday.

Names of family members bringing the suit were not included on information filed with the Chilton County Circuit Clerk. The plaintiff was listed as the “estate” of Johnny Michael Campbell.

In the counter-suit filed on Nov. 17, Cain, Childress and Colson wish to make Ann Campbell and Kevin Campbell, Johnny Michael Campbell’s father, liable for any damages against the DHR employees.

District Court Judge Rhonda Hardesty ruled in August that there was enough evidence to bring the criminal case against Ann Campbell before a grand jury. The criminal case is separate from the recently filed civil suit.

Police allege Ann Campbell shot another son, Bailey Mays, in the incident at the mobile home where the three lived. Mays was able to escape, and his injuries were not life threatening.

–Updated to include information about a counter-suit filed by DHR employees.