Attorney-Partners Roger A. Dreyer and Noemi Nunez Esparza of Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora have recently secured a $40-million settlement in a Sacramento elementary school sex abuse case after seven years of hard-fought litigation.
Partners Roger A. Dreyer and Noemi Nunez Esparza of Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora were joined by The Law Office of Joseph George Jr. to secure a $40-million settlement at the end of a hard-fought Sacramento elementary school sex abuse case. The attorneys represented five survivors of child sex abuse carried out by a trusted employee of Sacramento’s Mark Twain Elementary School, who sexually abused at least six elementary school children between 2013 and 2016. The lawsuit was brought against the City of Sacramento and the Sacramento City Unified School District, who were accused of negligently ignoring multiple warning signs that the employee was abusing children for several years.
The litigation began with The Law Office of Joseph George Jr., who eventually brought in the two attorneys from Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora to take the lead, joined by Attorney Joe George, Ph. D. and Attorney Maricar Pascual of the George firm. After seven years of litigation, more than 40 depositions, and countless legal battles, Attorneys Dreyer and Esparza were able to secure the $40-million settlement for their clients, which set a settlement amount record for such cases. Furthermore, the survivors and their families did not have to go through a potentially traumatic civil trial before this settlement was reached.
A previous victory secured by Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora and The Law Office of Joseph George Jr. required Mark Twain Elementary School and the Sacramento City Unified School District to significantly update the policies and practices regarding staff-and-student interactions. In 2019, the law firms represented another child sexual abuse survivor who was abused in the same timeframe and by the same sexual offender. The case ended with a $12.5-million settlement and a checklist of mandatory policy changes. The conditional agreement in the settlement required the defendants to implement improved policies to prevent future incidents of child sexual abuse, such as improved staff training for mandated reports when unusual or inappropriate staff behavior is known or suspected, stricter requirements for how often and how long a staff member can be alone with students, and other important changes. The district also hired a third-party consultant to review its policies and procedures regarding sexual abuse reporting and staff monitoring.
The $40-million settlement can help bring closure and a sense of justice to the young survivors and their families. Although the sexual offender and the school’s inaction have caused the survivors to suffer lifelong pain, trauma, and trust issues, the attorneys of Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora are hopeful that the settlement will act as the first step on the path to long-term emotional recovery. Attorney Roger Dreyer has been quoted as saying, “These children are going to be living with what has been imprinted into their hard drive, into their brain, the mistrust of adults and the violation that they didn't even know could happen.” With financial stability and the offender taken to justice in both the criminal court system and the civil court system, the survivors can begin their healing journeys.
This landmark case highlights the unshakable duties of educational institutions to safeguard the well-being of the children placed within their care and instruction. It also underscores the need for schools, administrators, and authorities to take decisive action when the warning signs of misconduct—sexual abuse or otherwise—are first noticed or reported. With the City of Sacramento paying 60% of the settlement and the Sacramento City Unified School District paying the rest, the attorneys of Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora are hopeful that the case result will serve as a catalyst for change in school districts throughout California and across the country, prompting them all to review their policies and ensure the safety of their students.
For more information about this case, refer to this Sacramento Bee article: https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article275427836.html. (Log-in and subscription may be required.) For more information about Dreyer Babich Buccola Wood Campora, a Sacramento-based sexual abuse and personal injury law firm, inquiring parties should visit: https://www.dbbwc.com.