ROCKBRIDGE COUNTY, Va.- – A $17 million dollar wrongful death lawsuit has been refiled on behalf of a Rockbridge County 4-month-old girl, blaming a local social services department for her death.
Charlee Ford died in April 2016. Since then, her family members say they have been fighting for justice.
The new lawsuit still lists both parents of Charlee Ford along with the local social services department, other employees and the board of directors as the remaining defendants.
The 15-page lawsuit also names Mark Reed as the new administrator of the estate of Charlee Ford. Reed was an investigator for the law firm filing the lawsuit.
They want the money for attorney fees, costs, expenses and any other relief.
"I think it's an appropriate number," Reed said.
The suit says the newborn infant tested positive for drugs. Although that was reported to the Child Protective Services Unit, the baby was allowed to live with her parents in a home that the department classified as "high-risk."
Workers noted at the time that the home was dirty and drug abuse was present.
An internal review by the regional office of social services noted that the Child Protective Services supervisor, who is also named in the suit, refused to assign an investigator to the case.
"They were negligent in their actions or inactions and needs to be held responsible," Reed said.
Ashley Ford created a Facebook page in memory of her half sister as a way to save others from addiction. She's supportive of the new lawsuit.
"It's been very emotional. Every time we get closer to the truth and finding out the answers and exactly what happened, something happens to throw the whole thing off again and we get further away from the truth," Ford said.
Charlee's father, Charles Everett, goes on trial for murder in September. Her mother, Diana Hazelwood, is set to be sentenced for murder the same month.
The chairman for the Rockbridge Area Department of Social Services board of directors said there is no comment at this time.