Panish | Shea | Boyle | Ravipudi LLP attorneys Spencer Lucas and Nadine Khedry obtained a $13,000,000 jury verdict in Riverside County Superior Court for a young girl who was sexually molested while in the care of EōS Fitness’ Kid’s Club in Palm Springs, California.
Plaintiff Jane Doe and her 2-year-old brother accompanied their mother to EōS Fitness gym on January 31, 2020 where she signed her two young children into Kids’ Club, the gym’s daycare center, and proceeded with her workout. Shortly thereafter, a 13-year-old boy, John Roe, was also signed into the daycare center by his mother. Surveillance video of the Kids’ Club shows the daycare center, which is separated into two rooms for older and younger children, had only one attendant on the job that day — a violation of its own company policy.
As evidenced in the surveillance video presented in court, the 13-year-old boy and Plaintiff Doe were left unsupervised in the same room where he proceed to molest the 5-year-old girl intermittently for over an hour. In addition to groping the Plaintiff’s genitalia, abuser Roe exposed himself and forced the young girl to touch him. Meanwhile, three club managers were in the other room of the Kids’ Club chatting to the daycare attendant distracting her from her job of supervising the children. Not once did the Kids’ Club attendant or managers ever realize what was happening in the room right behind them.
Plaintiff Doe told her mother what had happened to her at Kids’ Club immediately following the incident and the police were called to the scene. The boy was prosecuted for his conduct and EōS Fitness contested liability during the 18 months of litigation.
As a result of the abuse, Plaintiff suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, depression, and anxiety. She has frequent anger outbursts, nightmares, sleep problems, fear of being alone, self-esteem issues, and body image concerns. She has become fearful of men and older boys and has a changed relationship with her father and older brother as a result of the trauma. Plaintiff has undergone therapy which has proved helpful but continues to have significant struggles in her recovery. She often asks, “Why did that boy do that to me?” and “Am I always going to feel this way?”.
One week prior to trial, EōS Fitness stipulated to partial liability, admitting that it was negligent and that it’s negligence was a substantial factor in causing injury to Plaintiff. However, EōS Fitness contended that the criminal acts of molestation by the 13 year-old boy were also a substantial factor in causing injury to Plaintiff, and that a jury should apportion fault to Roe for damages.
At trial, Plaintiff’s counsel presented twelve witnesses over the course of three days. Plaintiff’s counsel established that the gym failed to have any policies and procedures regarding child sexual abuse which would have likely prevented this abuse from occurring. Additional evidence included the fact that the gym fired the Kids’ Club manager the day before the abuse and that the gym should have simply shut the Kids’ Club down if they did not have proper staffing. Evidence presented at trial proved that there was a longstanding problem of non-daycare staff hanging out in the Kids’ Club causing a distraction to the childcare attendants. Defendant took the position that Plaintiff had a diagnosis of adjustment disorder with anxiety but that it had resolved.
The jury took one full day of deliberation to render their verdict in favor of Plaintiff, awarding $5,000,000 in past non-economic damages (mental suffering and emotional distress) and $8,000,000 in future non-economic damages for a total of $13,000,000. The jury found the 13 year-old boy John Roe to be negligent, but found that his conduct was not a substantial factor in causing harm to Plaintiff. As a result EōS Fitness was allocated 100% responsibility.
Plaintiff was also represented in the matter by Simon Esfandi and Joseph P. Shiraz of Compass Law Group, PC.