Attorneys for Taylor & Ring achieved a remarkable settlement for a 9-year-old girl with special needs and her family. The girl had been repeatedly sexually abused in 2017 by a former bus driver for Lucia Mar Unified School District in California (LMUSD). On May 20, 2022, the school district paid $10 million to settle a claim that the school district was negligent in protecting the child and in hiring a sexual predator to drive a school bus.
According to station KSBY, the girl had been repeatedly molested over several months. The driver, David Lamb, now 53, had assaulted the girl who was the only student on the bus during her 20-minute ride to and from the school.
Our team was able to show that on several dates (April 6, May 9, and May 16), GPS data confirmed that the bus driver made unscheduled stops for 10 minutes. Dave Ring and Brendan Gilbert, who are represented the victim, said that Lamb would “pull off the road, park in a secluded area and sexually abuse the girl while threatening her to say nothing about it.”
The case included Surveillance footage taken inside the bus on April 7. The footage showed that the bus driver was in the driver’s seat when “he appeared to direct the girl to sit behind him in a seat off-camera.” The driver then brought the bus to a stop. The footage shows Lamb moving from the driver’s seat and stopping beside the girl’s seat, though his face is not visible.
Ring told KSBY, “There’s no doubt in your mind what he’s doing to this girl. He thinks he’s off-camera. He’s not.”
On April 10, 2017 (before the subsequent May attacks), the parents of the girl notified Lucia Mar district officials because the girl had told her parents that Lamb had “shown her inappropriate videos and ‘touched her’.” Our team said that while the school district had agreed to review the security footage, they did not watch all of the footage. The transportation supervisor claimed that the footage didn’t show anything unusual.
It wasn’t until the Sheriff’s Office for San Luis Obispo got the footage that Lamb was arrested. Almost two years after the assaults, Lamb entered a plea agreement that included a 16-year sentence in state prison.
The failure of LMUSD to properly review the footage was the last straw
At Taylor & Ring, we do our homework – a key essential to our success in sexual assault cases in California. The failure of LMUSD was both systemic and reprehensible. The fact that they hired Lamb “even after learning that he had lied on his employment application to the district by leaving out a criminal conviction for peeping” was the tip of the iceberg in this case. Per Ring:
The district failed to protect this vulnerable young girl from its predator bus driver, who should never have been hired in the first instance because of his criminal record,” “Once hired, the district failed to properly supervise [Lamb] even after receiving complaints about his suspicious behavior while driving the bus.
The civil case against the school district was filed in 2018 but the trial was delayed due to the court backlogs required by COVID-19 health concerns. The case finally settled before it was scheduled for a jury trial.
LMUSD issued what we consider a boilerplate response to the settlement:
The Lucia Mar Unified School District is deeply saddened that our student endured this abuse by Mr. Lamb. His behavior violated our trust and our student safety protocols. We do not tolerate abuse and we condemn the actions of David Lamb. We are hopeful that after five years, both the settlement and the conviction foster the healing process for the victim and our schools. This incident has prompted us to reexamine our safety standards, reporting procedures, and staff training to prevent this type of unacceptable, egregious behavior from happening again.
Coordination of the criminal and civil cases when sex crimes occur
Many victims of sexual assault and abuse are involved in two cases. The government normally files criminal charges against the person who commits the offenses. Our Los Angeles sexual assault lawyers file civil claims that seek to hold the assailant –and anyone or any entity who should have protected you or your child – responsible for your physical harm, medical needs, pain and suffering, and other damages.
We take great pride in our ability to work with the prosecutors to coordinate your civil claim with the criminal justice system. This coordination includes reviewing and using the evidence that is presented at the criminal case on your behalf in the civil trial. If the defendant in the criminal case is found guilty that conviction may be able to be used in the civil case, but it is not necessary: you can still seek justice in civil court even if your abuser is not found guilty.
While a criminal case helps ensure the assailant is punished, it is the civil case the compensates the victim and the parents of minor children. Childhood sexual assault victims often live with a lifetime of emotional trauma, which can be compounded when it is a trusted figure, like a teacher or a bus driver, who is the perpetrator. We help ensure that the responsible parties for your physical care, psychological help, and the damage to your life.
Taylor & Ring focuses on helping survivors of sexual assault and abuse. We work with counselors, psychologists, and other professionals when sexual assaults and other attacks take cause physical harm and devastate victims emotionally. We are skilled at holding the assailants and all other people and entities who should have intervened on your behalf. We demand compensation for all your financial damages and personal losses.
You can trust Taylor & Ring to demand that the wrongdoers be held accountable so you can get your dignity and confidence back. To speak with our compassionate lawyers who are seasoned trial lawyers, call us at 310.776.6390, or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.
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David Ring is a nationally renowned plaintiff’s personal injury trial attorney and has obtained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of seriously-injured individuals or families who have lost a loved one in a tragic accident. For more than 20 years, he has represented victims of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, assault, molestation and sexual misconduct in cases against a variety of employers and entities, including schools, churches and youth organizations.
He prides himself on providing aggressive, yet compassionate representation for children who have been sexually abused and women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted. Read more about David M. Ring.