Taylor & Ring is proud to announce that partners Dave Ring and Louanne Masry have secured a $45.4 million jury verdict against the County of Los Angeles and its Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) on behalf of our client’s daughter, a minor who had been repeatedly subjected to sexual abuse for years. Despite evidence of a child molester living in the El Monte home with our client’s daughter, DCFS ignored the signs that abuse had occurred, and failed to inform the police.
Dave Ring told the Los Angeles Times, “She endured two years of sex abuse you cannot imagine. The Department of Children and Family Services is the last line of defense for defenseless children, and they walked away here and let her be abused.”
What happened to the young girl?
Our client’s daughter, whom we will refer to as F.M., was seven years old when the sexual abuse began, in 2009. DCFS had been investigating another unrelated domestic violence issue in the house when the social workers learned that F.M. was forced to share a bed with a 30-year-old man. This man had a history of molesting children. DCFS asked that the man leave the home, but never followed up.
In 2012, F.M. disclosed that her mother – a drug addict who permitted felons and other sex offenders to live in her home – had allowed these different men to sexually abuse her over the years. Police launched an investigation that led to F.M.’s mother, as well as four men, to plead guilty to that abuse.
It is estimated that as many as 15 men raped and sexually abused F.M. between 2010 and 2012.
Why didn’t the DCFS do anything?
Despite evidence that F.M. was at risk of being sexually abused – and then later, evidence of that abuse – DCFS never bothered to follow up on what happened to the young girl. Though “the social workers concluded that [the offender’s] presence in the home placed the girl at a high risk of being sexually abused,” the Times reports, no effort was made to follow up with the girl. Furthermore, “The social workers did not refer the girl to see a forensic child abuse expert” who could have discovered evidence of that abuse earlier.
DCFS social workers are what’s known as mandated reporters: people with a “duty to report known or suspected abuse or neglect relating to children, elders or dependent adults. Any employees whose positions are designated by the state as mandated reporters must understand what they are required to report, when it must be reported, and to whom.”
During the trial, the County said the molestation occurred after DCFS closed its original case. They claimed they only learned of the abuse when F.M. told her father’s girlfriend what had happened to her.
That’s right: DCFS blamed the victim – a child – for them not doing their job.
What the jury decided
In Dave Ring’s closing argument, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported, he said that the case concerned “the destruction of a girl’s life. You heard about how abusive the sexual abuse of [F.M.] was…. [DCFS] could have prevented this from happening — they should have prevented this from happening,”
It took all of 4.5 hours to render a verdict and a sentence – $45.4 million. The decision “attributed 45% of the blame for the girl’s ordeal to DCFS, a finding that requires the county to pay more than $20 million of the verdict,” KTLA 5 News reported.
“I hope it sends a message… that they need to change their policies and do a much better job protecting vulnerable kids,” Dave Ring told The Daily Journal.
What happened to F.M. is the worst kind of tragedy, because it was a preventable one. A child endured years of sexual abuse, and neither her mother nor the County did anything to protect her. She will live with those physical and emotional scars for the rest of her life. It took six years to finally get justice for F.M. – but justice was, at least, served.
At Taylor & Ring, we will never stop fighting for justice for the abuse and neglected. Dave Ring and Louanne Masry fought the good fight and won. We promise: we’ll keep fighting for all of you, too. To learn more about our services, or to work with an experienced team of sex abuse lawyers in Los Angeles, please call 310-776-6390 or complete our contact form to schedule a free, confidential consultation.