Carlsbad School Child Abuse Appeal Rejected
Sovereign Immunity Did Not Work for CUSD
In cases against the government, sovereign immunity makes the king or the “sovereign” immune. After the American Revolution, our people retained the English Common Law. Especially relevant were that exceptions were made for American Common Law matters.
Thus, where English Law conflicts with our interpretation of Natural Rights and Natural Law, it is ignored. Furthermore, writings about this tradition are in ancient texts, such as the Magna Charta.
The Revolution recognized the concept that the government is NOT above the law. Therefore, statutory schemes evolved to assure that public servants could not hide. No longer could a public servant cower behind sovereign immunity. Thus, if they engage in conduct that violates rights of individuals they are accountable. Thus, in California, the Tort Claims Act evolved to assist victims in being able to sue the government.
Only Six Months to Sue the School District?
As a result, these laws are outside the standard procedural and substantive rules. Therefore, these are not procedures you or I would use to sue each other. A victim has only six (6) months to bring a claim against a public servant. The same rules apply for suing a government agency from the date of the discovery of the damages or injury.
However, there are maxims of law and exceptions to these rules. One example is that when a potential defendant is in a superior position to the victims. The victim is lulled into a false sense of security. Therefore, parents took no actions within the prescribed period. A court can extend the statute. The agency sued can also grant a waiver.
No Waivers Were Granted
Absent a waiver, this robust defense. This argument is in answers, demurrers, or motions for summary adjudication. This defense is very solid on appeal and can be renewed anytime. Below is a recent example of this type of situation. The facts relate that the judges in a state appellate court case have ruled against a call by the CUSD. The school district argued two third-grader families missed the deadline for their claim. They said the application should occur within six months of the incident.
The Court Rejected Carlsbad’s Arguments
The appellate court dismissed the appeal that the claims were not valid. It upheld a $1.8 million dollar jury award against the school district. The suit was for failure to keep a sexual predator away from third-grade students. The school claimed it was late. Hearing the appeal, was the Fourth District Court of Appeal.
That court ruled the argument had no basis. Particularly pertinent is that they said district officials asked families to remain quiet. People in a heightened position of authority asked parents to keep quiet. They told parents to “sleep on their rights.” At least it appears the appellate court made a finding of fact in this regard.
The School Lulled Parents into a False Sense of Security?
Noteworthy here is that administrators told the children’s parents they should remain silent. So the school was not allowed about to benefit. The statute did not shield the molestation. They said they wanted to avoid jeopardizing the criminal investigation. They asserted this could hurt the prosecution of teacher Raymond Firth.
The judges additionally alluded to the fact district officials told parents to stay quiet. Thus, rather than sue, the parents relied upon the warnings of the school. The school asserted suing could affect the prosecution of Firth. Hence, the judge stated that was a “powerful influence on the parent’s actions.”
Therefore, this was a disappointment to Carlsbad District attorney Daniel Shinoff. Shinoff said no child should ever be the victim of a teacher. Consequently, the school district feels wrong for the incidents. Termination of Firth should have been a long time ago according to plaintiff’s lawyers. They say the school district did not provide adequate supervision.
There were many complaints about his behavior with other students. Los Angeles attorney David Ring represented the victims. He stated it took a long time to get justice. The events occurred in 2007. As a pleasing result, the children and parents can put this behind them.
In 2012 the civil court jury unanimously arrived at a verdict against Firth and the district. This case could have come to a conclusion with 9 out of the 12 jury members. Firth handles part of the $4.5 million dollar judgment.
The families said they do not expect the teacher will have the ability to pay. The appeals panel ordered the school district to pay for the families’ legal costs. Costs awards were separate from the jury award.
The Insurance Company Made the Decision to Appeal, not the School
Rick Grove is the Carlsbad Unified School assistant superintendent for personnel services. Because of legal issues, he was unable to comment much on the case. Most noteworthy is that most of the individuals involved in the case left the school district. He also stated he was unable to comment on the legal issues on appeal. Thus, Grove said the San Diego County Office of Education was paying most of the costs. It operates in joint power authority funding most legal fees by member districts.
A spokeswoman stated the decision to appeal wasn’t by the joint powers authority. It was by an insurance company. Firth age 44 was a third-grade teacher at Pacific Rim Elementary School. The teacher pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual battery as a result. Thus, in 2010 he went away for three years and eight months in prison after sentencing.
Firth is now free. Consequently, he must register as a lifetime sex offender. In conclusion, it seems “low-class” of the school to ask parents to back off till the criminal case was over. What is your opinion?