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Sept. 26, 2020

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Judge reduces damages in wrongful death case of boys killed by father

Grandparents said state didn’t protect boys slain in 2012

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TACOMA — A judge in Washington has reduced the damages in a wrongful death case brought by Susan Cox Powell’s parents on behalf of her sons.

Judith and Charles Cox had said the state didn’t do enough to keep their 7- and 5-year-old grandsons safe from their father, who killed the boys in 2012. Jurors found the state Department of Social and Health Services negligent in July and awarded $98.5 million to the Cox family for the pain and suffering of Charlie and Braden Powell.

Pierce County Superior Court Judge Stanley Rumbaugh on Tuesday reduced that by two-thirds Tuesday, to about $32.8 million, The News Tribune reported.

“This becomes a very difficult decision for the court,” Rumbaugh said. “It’s whether the size of the verdict in light of the evidence produced shocks the conscience of the court, and in this case it does.”

Lawyers for the state had filed a motion for a new trial or a ruling to reduce or throw out the verdict. It argued in part, “The jury verdict for Plaintiffs’ damages was so excessive as to be ‘flagrantly outrageous and extravagant’ on its face.”

A response filed by the Cox family’s attorneys argued in part: “The jury was conscientious, diligent and nothing in the record suggests they acted with passion or prejudice.”

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