The Daily Journal has released its list of 2022 Top Verdicts in California and named PSBR case Jane Doe v. Pasadena Unified School District among the 46 largest and most significant verdicts in the state. Recognized by the publication as a Top Verdict by Impact, the $26,000,000 verdict in this negligent supervision and sexual assault case was obtained by attorneys David Rudorfer and Wyatt Vespermann.
Plaintiff Jane Doe was an 11-year-old girl with special needs who was sexually abused three of her male classmates at Focus Point Academy during the 2015-2016 school year — a program staffed, funded and operated by the Pasadena Unified School District. A teacher’s aide was tasked with supervising Jane but instead left her unsupervised with three male classmates who dragged her behind a building and sexually assaulted her.
“The fact that we were able to have a successful verdict in this case with a little girl who could not testify before the jury just has a great deal of importance for other sex abuse victims,” Rudorfer said in an interview with Daily Journal. “Sex abuse victims are so scared about going to trial and getting put through a very difficult, harsh cross-examination.”
Despite significant evidence supporting that the assault occurred, the Pasadena Unified School District denied the attack took place, denied the School District’s negligence, and fought for more than five years to deny Plaintiff justice. As a result of the sexual assault, the Plaintiff eventually was institutionalized.
At trial in Los Angeles County, in addition to denying that the sexual assault had occurred, the defense argued that the Plaintiff suffered no damages as a result of the School District’s conduct and that the jury should award her nothing.
Of the District’s denial, Mr. Vespermann added, “They called it sexual horseplay.”
A 12-person jury disagreed with the defense and voted unanimously that the District had been negligent, awarding Jane Doe $26,000,000 including $12,500,000 for Jane Doe’s past pain and suffering and $13,500,000 for her future pain and suffering. Plaintiff’s attorneys waived economic damages.
Pasadena Unified School District was represented in the matter and at trial by Nancy Doumanian of Doumanian & Associates.
Read the full case profile at DailyJournal.com