$3,500,000 Settlement in Sexual Assault by a Workplace Supervisor in Georgia

Sexual Abuse

We handle a lot of hard cases. This one was one of the hardest.

 

Our client, A.B., was working for a business in Georgia. Her supervisor directed her to clean the restrooms. He followed her into the women’s restroom, cornered her in a stall, pulled down her pants, and forcibly raped her. A.B. kicked her assailant and told him to stop, but he overpowered her. She was only sixteen years old. Her supervisor was thirty-one.

Our client offered to settle the case for the million-dollar insurance limits. The company refused and instead only offered five thousand dollars.

Here’s how we were able to settle A.B.’s case for $3,500,000.

(For the privacy and confidentiality of those involved, we have changed the names and others mentioned in this article.)

Proving Fault

Sexual Abuse

In Georgia, a business owner is typically not legally responsible for the intentional criminal acts of its employees. To hold the business owner responsible, a victim must show that the business owner either knew or should have known about the dangerous individual and that the victim didn’t know about the danger. In other words, the victim must show that the sexual assault was foreseeable to the business owner.

In our case, the evidence of foreseeability was overwhelming. Three young, female employees had complained about the supervisor at issue before the sexual assault. The female employees each had told store managers that the supervisor touched them in appropriate ways and talked about inappropriate, sexual things. Another older, male employee had told a manager that he feared for A.B.’s safety because the supervisor in question was always following A.B. around the store. One manager even convened a meeting of employees to keep an eye out on the supervisor because he thought he had a perverted attraction to A.B.

Despite all of the complaints about the supervisor, the company didn’t do anything. None of the managers reported the complaints to human resources or documents the supervisor’s personnel file.

The highest-ranking human resources employee for the company testified that if any of the complaints had been reported to human resources, the company would have investigated the supervisor. In other words, if the company had known that the supervisor was a danger, it would have fired him.

Denial of Responsibility

Throughout the case, the company denied any responsibility. The company admitted that the supervisor had sexual intercourse with A.B. but instead argued that A.B. consented to it. The evidence belied the company’s position.

For example, when we took the supervisor’s deposition, his lawyer advised him to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. In a civil case, when a witness invokes his or her Fifth Amendment right and refuses to testify, the jury can infer that the testimony would have been harmful. In other words, the jury would have been permitted to infer that the supervisor had sexually assaulted and raped A.B.

The company also took A.B.’s deposition. During that deposition, A.B. testified that the intercourse was not consensual.

Even the psychologist who the defense hired to interview A.B. testified that A.B.’s symptoms were consistent with a victim of sexual abuse.

There was no evidence of consent. The company was in trouble and knew it.

Settlement of the Sexual Assault Case

The company filed a motion for summary judgment, which asked the Court to dismiss our case. While the Court granted part of the company’s motion, an important part of the motion was denied, which meant we were going to present our case to the jury.

After the favorable order, the company was eager to mediate the case. After a full day of mediation, we were able to settle the case for $3,500,000.

There is no amount of money that can un-do the trauma that A.B. experienced, but the settlement will pay for college and will help A.B. start her life anew.

 

Jeb Butler
Jeb Butler’s career as a Georgia trial lawyer has led to a $150 million verdict in a product liability case against Chrysler for a dangerous vehicle design that caused the death of a child, a $45 million settlement for a young man who permanently lost the ability to walk and talk, and numerous other verdicts and settlements, many of which are confidential at the defendant’s insistence. Jeb has worked on several cases that led to systemic changes and improvements in public safety. He has been repeatedly recognized as a Georgia SuperLawyer and ranks among Georgia’s legal elite. Jeb graduated in the top 10% of his class at UGA Law, argued on the National Moot Court team, and published in the Law Review. He is the founding partner of Butler Kahn law firm. Connect with me on LinkedIn

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