Mother awarded $30 million in negligence lawsuit against LAUSD employee after child’s tragic death

Van Nuys, California – A California state court jury has awarded $30 million to the mother of a six-year-old child who was fatally beaten by an employee of the Los Angeles Unified School District. The entire trial was recorded by the Courtroom View Network. The verdict was delivered shortly after the closing arguments, following a trial that started on August 7. Kenya Taylor, the plaintiff, filed a lawsuit against LAUSD after her son, Dayvon, was killed by Tyler D’Shaun Martin Brand, who was babysitting him at Taylor’s apartment.

Taylor’s lawsuit accused LAUSD of negligent hiring, alleging that Brand had a history of problematic employment and would not have met Dayvon if he had not supervised him at an after-school program. LAUSD argued that they should not be held responsible for a murder that took place on private property and outside of school hours, and that Brand had passed numerous background checks. The jury found Taylor 10 percent liable, reducing the award to $27 million.

Access to the full trial is available through a subscription to CVN’s online trial video library. The attorney representing Taylor, Steve Vartazarian, revealed that the school district’s highest settlement offer was $75,000, which he deemed inadequate given the circumstances of the case. Vartazarian stated that the focus groups conducted before the trial indicated that the jurors believed LAUSD had “dropped the ball” in their hiring protocols. They were particularly disturbed by the lack of one-on-one interviews, reference checks, and verification of past employment. Vartazarian argued that it was the defendant’s negligent hiring practices that led to the tragic incident.

During the trial and in their settlement position, the defense focused on aspects such as Taylor’s decision to ask Brand to babysit her son and allowing him into their home. However, Vartazarian contended that the defense failed to recognize the importance of the negligent hiring issue and that jurors were still critical of Taylor’s decisions. To address this, Vartazarian asked the jurors to assign Taylor 10 percent liability.

When it became clear that a meaningful settlement was not possible, Vartazarian shifted his efforts towards achieving a policy change through a significant jury verdict. He expressed hope that LAUSD would recognize the need to improve their HR policies and practices and make changes in the hiring process.

The case was presided over by Judge Michael Harwin, and LAUSD was represented by Gary A. Bacio of Bacio & Associates. This case, titled Kenya Taylor v. Los Angeles Unified School District, took place in the Los Angeles County Superior Court.