On December 14, 2017, a teenage girl, who was molested by her Los Altos High School teacher over three years ago, finally got some closure. U.S. News reported that a California jury awarded her “nearly $3 million in damages” in her personal injury lawsuit. The teen filed a personal injury suit because, as a result of the molestation, she now suffers from depression and post-traumatic stress. U.S. News stated that the suit named as defendants both her teacher, David Park, who had served time in prison for the criminal charges, as well as the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District, located just east of Los Angeles. The school district commented that “the verdict mostly blames Park but serves as a reminder that it must be vigilant in protecting students.” While certainly nothing can take away what this young girl experienced, she now can move forward with both closure and some form of compensation.
In this case, the young girl brought this personal injury claim not only against her abuser, Mr. Park, but also the school district. Legally, both can be held liable for the harm that befell the young girl. While Mr. Park’s fault is obvious, the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District can also be named as a defendant in the case because they not only have responsibility over the teacher who is an employee of the district, but the District also has a responsibility to protect their students from harm. There is also an economic benefit for naming the school district—they have more money to provide compensation for the student’s injuries.