RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina appeals court says an abused woman can't sue her local social services department over alleged failures that allowed her estranged husband to shoot her in the face and kill her parents as their children watched.

The state Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that while people sometimes can sue the state for constitutional violations, government agencies and officials are usually shielded from lawsuits.

The three-judge panel said Latonya Taylor can't sue the Wake County Division of Social Services and seek punitive damages. Instead, she must pursue a claim against the state through an administrative process that caps damages at $1 million per person injured.

Nathan Holden was convicted of first-degree murder a year ago. He shot Taylor and killed her parents, who sheltered the woman.