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Sex Abuse Lawyer Stan Doerrer Fights for Successful Outcome in Lawsuit Based on 1990s Era Sexual Abuse

Sex Abuse Lawyer Stan Doerrer Fights for Successful Outcome in Lawsuit Based on 1990s Era Sexual Abuse

Stan Doerrer, an Alexandria, Virginia sexual abuse lawyer, recently served as co-lead Plaintiffs’ counsel in two important cases brought on behalf of adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a Manassas, Virginia, elementary school employee in the 1990’s. Plaintiffs, and many others, were victimized by a serial sexual abuser who worked at their elementary school from 1981-1998. While the sexual predator was ultimately convicted for his crimes and sentenced to 108 years in a Virginia prison, Plaintiffs alleged that his conduct was an open secret for many years and was tacitly allowed by school officials, including the school’s Principal.

Plaintiffs brought Civil Rights claims, Title IX claims, and state law claims for negligence, gross negligence, and other claims against the Manassas School Board and the former Principal of their elementary school– under whose watch the abuse occurred. On May 2, 2019, Defendants filed motions to dismiss all claims, arguing that Plaintiffs’ federal and state law claims were barred, in part, due to passage of time. Plaintiffs opposed these motions on May 30, 2019 and, on June 28, 2019, the Court dismissed all of Plaintiffs’ claims against the School Board, and most claims against the Principal. Importantly, Plaintiffs’ gross negligence claim against the Principal was allowed to proceed.

At trial, Plaintiffs would have to prove that the Principal’s gross negligence was a proximate cause of the children’s sexual abuse at the hands of the teacher. This is a very high standard. In Virginia, a showing of gross negligence requires “a degree of negligence showing indifference to another and an utter disregard of prudence that amounts to a complete neglect of the safety of such other person.” This is a notoriously hard standard to meet, and this is especially true when the events at issue occurred almost 30 years ago. Facing an uphill battle, Plaintiffs needed evidence to support allegations that the Principal showed “utter disregard” by ignoring obvious red flags. Plaintiffs extensive investigation, and discovery, ultimately provided sufficient facts to survive summary judgment. Plaintiffs’ subsequent investigation revealed significant personal ties between the Principal and the abuser, as well as three  parents’ reports directly to the principal regarding their concerns about the abuser– which were responded to defensively when, in the words of one parent, “she shut me down.”

On November 8, 2019, Dr. Howard moved for summary judgment, arguing that Plaintiffs had not created a triable issue of fact regarding gross negligence, and that the statute of limitations barred Plaintiffs’ claims because Virginia’s extended accrual period for childhood victims of sexual assault only applies to cases versus the perpetrator of the abuse. Plaintiffs opposed Defendant’s motion on November 22, 2019, and the Court denied the motion on December 12, 2019. The Court’s ruling is available here. Ultimately, due in large part to Plaintiff’s persistence in pursuing relevant discovery and tracking down witnesses, the cases settled shortly before trial for a significant amount. Mr. Doerrer is proud to have assisted these two Plaintiffs in obtaining some measure of closure.

(703) 348-4646 | FAX: (703) 348-0048 | EMAIL: stan@doerrerlaw.com

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STAN M. DOERRER, ESQ.

LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW IN VA, DC AND MD

  • 950 N. Washington Street, Alexandria, VA. 22314
  • (703) 348-4646 | FAX: (703) 348-0048
  • stan@doerrerlaw.com

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