After-school playground supervisor solicits childcare work from school parents, is later convicted of murdering a child he was babysitting.
- Case Name: Kenya Taylor v. Los Angeles Unified School District
- Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / 20STCV33128
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, August 10, 2023
- Date Action was Filed: Monday, August 31, 2020
- Type of Case: Highlighted Verdicts, Wrongful Death
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Michael Harwin
Plaintiffs: Kenya Taylor
Defendants: Los Angeles Unified School District
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $30,000,000
- Net Verdict or Award: $27,000,000
Award as to each Defendant:
The jury found LAUSD liable for negligent hiring and supervision. (CACI 426.)
- Contributory/Comparative Negligence: 90% on Los Angeles Unified School District; 10% on Kenya Taylor.
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 4 days
- Jury Deliberation Time: 2 1/2 hours
- Jury Polls: 12-0
Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Vartazarian Law Firm by Steve Vartazarian and Matt Whibley, Calabasas.
Attorney for the Defendant:
Bacio and Associates by Gary Bacio, Los Angeles.
Peterson, Bradford and Burkwitz by Gil Burkwitz, Burbank.
Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
William Bainbridge, Ph.D., school-related incidents.
Defendant's Technical Experts: None.
Facts and Background
Facts and Background:
The LAUSD hired Tyler Martin Brand as an Out of Classroom Worker in September, 2016. During the hiring process, he passed the LAUSD’s training for his position as an Out of Classroom Worker. He also passed a criminal background and fingerprint check. As an Out of Classroom Worker, his daily duties consisted of activities for the district's after school program on the Normandie Avenue Elementary School playground where he was assigned to keep students active in sports like basketball.
Plaintiff claimed that the school district had allowed Brand to solicit parents at the school to let him babysit their children at his Downey apartment, something district policy does not allow. Plaintiff offered evidence that Brand had no training or experience with children, and that a supervisor who knew that Brand was offering babysitting services did not check his references.
On December 26, 2019, Kenya Taylor, a parent at the school, asked Martin Brand, who had developed a relationship with her son Dayvon, age 6, to babysit Dayvon at Martin Brand’s apartment in Downey during the Christmas break. She asked him to keep her son so she could move to a new apartment. Later that day, Martin Brand brought a nearly lifeless Dayvon Taylor back to his mother at her new apartment. They then took Dayvon to the hospital in Long Beach where he was pronounced dead. He died of blunt force trauma injuries. Subsequently, Brand was arrested and convicted of Dayvon's murder.
That defendant school district negligently hired and supervised Tyler Martin Brand. They failed to properly observe him or ask him probing questions during the interview process. Had they properly evaluated him and supervised him, his violent tendencies would have appeared.
Plaintiff also presented evidence that L.A. Unified’s human resources department was never involved in hiring Brand, and that the staff responsible for the hiring were not trained to filter out candidates unsuited to being with children.
None of the LAUSD’s employees ever observed any behavior by Martin Brand that raised any concern that he posed a danger to students or anyone else. By all accounts he was a respectful person and an excellent employee. No student or parent ever informed any LAUSD employee about any concern that Martin Brand was behaving inappropriately or displayed violent tendencies.
Further, that LAUSD was unaware Brand had continued contact with Dayvon and his mother after he transferred from Normandie and was no longer employed by the school district.
Injuries and Other Damages
Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: None
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: None
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: None
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: Nene
Demands and Offers
- Defendant §998 Offer: $75,000