SCRANTON — A lawsuit filed by a father who claims Luzerne County Children and Youth Services allowed his two children to be killed in a Laflin arson has been moved to federal court at the defendant’s request.
Deleon Major, of Philadelphia, is the father of Ezekiel Major, 7, and Devon Major, 12, who were both killed in the Oct. 25 blaze along with their half-brother, Erik Dupree, 16. Prosecutors say the fire was set by Preston Bonnett, 27, who is facing three counts each of arson and homicide.
Major’s suit alleges the Luzerne County agency, along with its Philadelphia counterpart, made the children’s death possible by giving custody of the children to their mother, Susan Major.
According to Mr. Major, Susan Major had a history of mental health problems, including suicidal and homicidal thoughts, and also said she exposed the children to drug use and other criminal behavior.
He originally filed the suit in county court in early July.
Due to a federal filing made this week by Robyn McGrath, the attorney representing Luzerne County Children and Youth, the case is being moved to the federal level.
McGrath argues that since the two departments are accused of violating federal law in not appropriately assessing the danger posed to the children, the defendants have the right to move the case into the appropriate federal court.
McGrath also writes that, as of Aug. 6, the Philadelphia department has not been served with the suit.
Currently, Bonnett is locked up in the Luzerne County Correctional Facility. His case is set to go to trial on Jan. 28, 2019.
Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan