CPS Sued over Child's Death in Foster Care

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Relatives of a 3-year-old who died in foster care have sued Child Protective Services in federal court, claiming the agency allowed her to remain with the foster parents despite knowing she had been previously injured.

Leaving Sierra Odom and her older brother in the couple's care "increased the likelihood of future physical harm, abuse, and/or corporal punishment ... rendering Sierra Odom and (the brother) more vulnerable," the lawsuit states.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, asks a jury to assess monetary damages. It was filed Monday on behalf of Sierra's father and brother by the Tarrant County Child Protective Services board's former chairwoman, Sheila B. Johnson, who is named as the administrator of the girl's estate. Sierra's father, Jonathan Odom, is listed as a plaintiff, and CPS and individual state employees are listed as defendants.

Johnson referred questions to her attorney, who could not immediately be reached for comment.

CPS does not comment on pending lawsuits, said Marissa Gonzales, a CPS spokeswoman.

Sierra Odom died in 2005 after being hit on the head and suffocated at her foster parents' Arlington home, authorities said.

In May, a jury convicted foster father Timothy R. Warner of injury to a child in Sierra's death. The same jury failed to agree on a sentence for Warner; a new punishment hearing will be held later.

Monday's lawsuit comes weeks after Sierra's mother, Heather Jamieson, alleged in a separate lawsuit that CPS "owed a duty of care to Sierra Odom to ensure that she was placed into a foster home which would provide an environment which would ensure her health, safety, and welfare."