LAUSD teacher claims retaliation after she reports suspected child abuse. $600K. Los Angeles County.


Preschool teacher says she was retaliated against for reporting abuse.

The Case

  • Case Name: Johana Davila v. Los Angeles Unified School District
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC655534
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, September 10, 2019
  • Date Action was Filed: Monday, March 27, 2017
  • Type of Case: Whistleblower
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Rupert A. Byrdsong
  • Plaintiffs:
    Johana Davila, 44, teacher.
  • Defendants:
    Los Angeles Unified School District
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $600,000. Jury findings: Yes on retaliation; no on constructive discharge.
  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Past: $500,000

    Future: $100,000 

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 7 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 4 1/2 hours.
  • Jury Polls: 9-3

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Koron & Podolsky, LLP by Boris Koron, Sherman Oaks.

    Salute Law by Kevin Salute, Tarzana.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Gutierrez Preciado & House by Calvin House and Gabriel Mendoza, Pasadena.

    Los Angeles Unified School District by Adam Grable, Los Angeles.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Giovanna Pegolo, M.D., psychiatry, Pasadena. (Treating psychiatrist.) 

  • Defendant's Medical Experts:
    Andrew Woo, M.D.
    Kyle Boone, M.D.
  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
    Andrew H. Woo, M.D., Ph.D., neurology, Santa Monica.
    Kyle B. Boone, Ph.D., ABPP/ABCN, neuropsychology, Torrance.
  • Plaintiff's Technical Experts:
    Mark Falkenhagen
  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Mark Falkenhagen, economics, Los Angeles.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:
    Plaintiff worked for the Los Angeles Unified School District as a preschool teacher for 12 years. She had good reviews including a letter of recommendation from her school's principal. Plaintiff reported an incident of suspected child abuse by the office manager that she witnessed. 
  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That plaintiff, a teacher employed by the LAUSD, was subjected to retaliation for reporting suspected child abuse.

    That the school principal was upset because the school was cited by the California Department of Social Services regarding the report on the office manager, a friend of the principal's.

    Almost immediately after her report, the principal started to subject plaintiff to discipline, including numerous write-ups, a poor performance evaluation, and an 11-day suspension. Two other principals, who were both friends with the original principal, continued to give plaintiff write-ups and poor performance evaluations. It got to the point where plaintiff could not take it any longer, so she resigned. Plaintiff brought claims for retaliation and constructive discharge.
  • Defendant's Contentions:

    LAUSD claimed it had legitimate, non-retaliatory reasons for taking the adverse actions it did against plaintiff.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Past and future emotional distress