CENTREVILLE (WWJ/AP) – Child welfare workers can’t be sued in the 2008 death of a southwestern Michigan teen who perished in a fire, even if they knew she was routinely tied to her bed by her parents.

A federal appeals court has affirmed a decision by a judge in Grand Rapids. The court says the death of  17-year-old Calista Springer in St. Joseph County is “undeniably tragic” but the state didn’t increase the danger.

Springer died during an accidental fire while being restrained to her bed. Her father and stepmother were cleared of murder, but convicted of torture and child abuse charges and sentenced to several years in prison.

The lawsuit, filed by Springer’s grandmother, claimed that caseworkers with Child Protective Services failed to adequately respond to “a long and documented history of the abuse” at the hands of Springer’s parents. The suit alleges that Springer would have survived if she was protected by CPS from the abuse.

Officials say there’s no dispute that the Department of Human Services had visited the home, but the last contact was nearly three years earlier.

TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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