California Supreme Court case addresses Liability of School District for Sexual Abuse/Misconduct Allegations

A recent California Supreme Court case addressed the liability of a school district for the sexual abuse/misconduct allegations against a school counselor in C.A. vs. Hart Union High School District. In this case the plaintiff/student alleged that the school district was liable for the conduct of the counselor. The theories against the school district were that the district was negligent in its hiring, training, supervision, etc. of the counselor. The school district claimed that the law did not impose liability on the district for the acts of its counselor. The district filed a demurrer, which is a motion made at the pleading stage. No trial had been held.

The Supreme Court held that a school district can be held liable for negligent hiring, training, retaining, supervision, etc. of its teachers, and/or counselors. However, if the school district was not negligent in these areas, then there is likely to be no liability imposed on the district.

The case was sent back to the trial court to have a trial. If the plaintiff is not able to prove that the district was negligent in its hiring, training, retaining and/or supervision of the counselor, then the district is not going to be responsible for the acts of the counselor, even though the counselor will be liable. However, a verdict against only the school employee (school counselor) is not likely to provide any meaningful remedy for the student.

This case is particularly interesting given the recent revelations about some grade school teachers in the Los Angeles School District.

If you or a friend, or family member, have been injured due to the liability of school district for sexual abuse/misconduct or because of any event, and would like to discuss your rights to recover from the party that caused the injury, please feel free to contact our office. There is no charge for the call or consultation.
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