Federal Court’s Nod to Lawsuit Against State’s Child Welfare System for Deaths of Susan Powell’s Kids
The federal appeals court upheld a lawsuit against Washington State filed by a missing Utah woman’s family on Thursday. The woman, Susan Cox, was reported to have been missing for the last nine years.
A lower court had dismissed Judy and Charles Cox’s civil lawsuit against Washington’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families over the killing of Susan’s children by their father Josh Powell, as reported by media outlets. This dismissal was reversed by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals allowing the case to proceed.
In the ruling, Judge Leslie Kobayashi wrote: “Material issues of fact exist regarding whether DSHS used reasonable care to avoid placing the boys in harm’s way.”
Powell was a suspect in the disappearance and death of his wife. Utah and Washington state police were keeping a watch over him.
It is understood that Powell killed Susan in Utah in 2009. He then moved to Washington. Susan’s parents, Judy and Charles Cox, were engaged in a bitter legal battle with Powell over the custody of his two children Charlie and Braden. A state judge then gave Powell the go-ahead for supervised visits at Washington’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families.
During one such visit in 2012, he locked a social worker out and murdered his young sons with a hatchet. He then believed to have blown up a house in Graham killing himself.
Arguing it was the responsibility of the state’s child welfare system to ensure the children’s safety, the Cox family then filed the lawsuit against them.
There were voyeurism accusations against Powell’s father Steven Powell too. Police investigated these charges. However, he was convicted and served his prison time. He is said to have died in July.
What the ruling by the federal court means
Since the Cox family won the appeal, the case will now go back to a lower court where it may go to trial or end in a settlement. The Cox family hailed the decision.