Jury finds school district negligently hired bus driver who then molested 8-year-old girl. San Joaquin County.

Summary

School district settles for $4.75 million after jury finds that it was negligent in hiring a school bus driver who later molested a special-needs child on the bus.

The Case

  • Case Name: Diana C. v. Lodi Unified School District, et al.
  • Court and Case Number: San Joaquin Superior Court,/ 39-2011-00267549
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
  • Date Action was Filed: Wednesday, October 19, 2011
  • Type of Action: Negligence, Sexual Abuse
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Barbara Kronlund
  • Plaintiffs:
    Diana C.
  • Defendants:
    Lodi Unified School District, Richard Dale Evans
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: Lodi USD 90% liable, Richard Evans 10% liable
  • Net Verdict or Award: Settlement after verdict, Lodi USD payment of $4,750,000.00 to plaintiff.
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    Lodi USD settlement with Plaintiff for $4,750,000 after first phase verdict was reached finding Lodi USD 90% liable for the abuse. Richard Dale Evans found 10% liable for the abuse. Damage award against Evans to be determined by Court after completion of bench trial.

  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: Lodi USD 90% liable, Richard Evans 10% liable.
  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 4 weeks
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 1 hour

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Manly & Stewart  by Vince William Finaldi and John C. Manly, Newport Beach.

    Meleyco Law Firm by Kenneth Meleyco, Stockton.

     

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Stubbs & Leone PC by Marina Pitts, Walnut Creek.

     

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Lenore Terr, M.D., psychiatry, San Francisco

     

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Anlee Kuo, M.D., psychiatry, San Francisco

     

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Sixty-one-year-old Richard Evans worked for defendant Lodi Unified School District as a school bus driver. In the course of his work, Evans transported 8-year-old Diana C., who was a special-needs child, to her special-needs classroom. On November 3, 2010 and on unkown prior dates Evans sexually assaulted and molested Diana on the school bus.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That the School District was liable for negligently hiring Evans; that defendant ignored the fact that Evans had been charged in 2000 with solicitation for having sex with a prostitute inside his delivery truck.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That Evans's prior record did not make his sexual molestation of the child forseeable.

    That Evans revealed his prior record upon application for employment with the District in 2003. That the District performed a criminal background check through the California Department of Justice, which confirmed the charge had been dismissed and expunged.

    That Evans's misdemeanor is not an enumerated sex offense precluding employment under the California Education Code, section 44010.

    That the CHP conducted a second background check, interviewed Evans and issued a temporary school bus driver's certificate. That the DMV then issued Evans a permanent license.

    That Evans worked as a substitute bus driver for the District for seven years with no complaints of any inappropriate sexual conduct with students. That Evans's misdemeanor conduct in 2000 with an adult prostitute did not make his molest of an eight-year-old foreseeable.

    That the District worked closely with the police in their investigation and terminated Evans the day the molest was reported.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Psychological and emotional injuries and pain and suffering.

Additional Notes

Per defense counsel: With respect to the apportionment of fault assessed by the jury between Evans and the District, had the case proceeded to judgment against the District, the apportionment would have constituted grounds for an appeal under case law, including, but not limited to, Pamela B. v. Hayden (1994) 25 Cal.App.4th 785 and Scott v. County of Los Angeles (1994) 27 Cal.App.4th 125.

Plaintiff's case continues as to Evans, seeking $15,000,000 in compensatory damages and $10,000,000 in punitive damages.

Plaintiff counsel responds:

This (cite) is not correctly (summarized by defense counsel): That case stated the verdict was not supported by substantial evidence, and there the jury apportioned 99% fault to the employer and 1% to the perpetrator. Here, we have 10% to the perpetrator and 90% to the employer. Also, the verdict was supported by more than enough substantial evidence.

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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