Judge dismisses lawsuit against state in death of Susan Cox Powell's sons

TACOMA (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit against Washington state brought by the grandparents of Charlie and Braden Powell.

U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Leighton issued the 29-page decision Tuesday, ruling that the social workers involved were not at fault for the boys' deaths at the hands of their father.

The News Tribune reports (http://goo.gl/mdZ9Xf ) the ruling says federal law provides the social workers with absolute immunity from liability to ensure the judiciary and others can engage in the pursuit of justice without fear of retribution.

Leighton also said he was sympathetic to Charles and Judy Cox, the boys' grandparents who sued the state Department of Social and Health Services on behalf of their dead grandsons in 2013.

An attorney for the Coxes says they are disappointed and considering their next steps.

The boys' father, Josh Powell, was suspected of having killed his wife, Susan Powell, in Utah, in 2009, before moving to Puyallup, where he killed their two young sons and himself in an explosive house fire in Graham in 2012.

Before the deaths, Susan's parents, Chuck and Judy Cox, wrangled with Josh Powell over custody of the boys.

Chuck Cox, said he told Washington state's Child Protective Services that his grandchildren were in danger from Josh two days before their horrific slayings.

“They have to be held accountable,” Cox said of CPS.

He added, “He (Josh) was cornered and I was concerned for the safety of our children I made that known to social workers and I was told it was OK,” Cox said.

The Cox family asked the federal court to hold CPS responsible for allowing Josh to have visitation with Charlie and Braden, even after knowing Powell could be involved in his wife’s disappearance.

The killings happened during a CPS-supervised visitation in 2012. Josh locked a social worker out of the house and killed the children.