School District To Pay $28.5M Over Injuries Student Sustained

The $28.5 million settlement of a lawsuit brought against the Victor Elementary School District by attorneys representing the family of Fabian Sanchez, who in 2017 was run down while walking home from school, will be covered entirely by the district’s insurance carrier and will not impact educational funding, district officials insisted this week.
Fabian Sanchez, a special needs student attending Puesta Del Sol Elementary School, under the terms of federal law pertaining to special education students, was to be provided with transportation to and from his home and school while he was enrolled in the educational program. That he was to be provided with transportation was confirmed in an Individu-
lized Education Program document signed by his mother, Maria Sanchez, and a district official. That document committed Fabian to attending the school. The transportation guarantee was based upon a school district psychologist’s determination that young Sanchez had “cognitive deficits that impacted his ability to safely walk home,” according to a court filing.
On February 3, 2017, according to attorneys representing the Sanchez family, Fabian was not provided with the “curb to curb” transportation consisting of a bus ride from home to school and then back home from school, which is located on Puesta del Sol Drive near Academy Drive in Victorville. Instead, after school ended, a school employee walked with the then-11-year-old to a corner across the street from the school grounds and instructed him to make his way home on his own.
Shortly thereafter, after Fabian Sanchez had reached the terminus of Puesta del Sol Drive where it dead ends at four-lane Village Drive, he attempted to cross the street.
Raul Martinez, in a Honda Accord traveling at just around 50 miles an hour in the number one lane of Village Drive, was unable to react in time and ran the student over as he was seeking to run across Village Drive. Sanchez landed in the number two lane. Martinez pulled over at once and called for an emergency response. Responders initially found Sanchez was not breathing. He was transported by ground ambulance to Loma Linda University Medical Center for treatment.
Sanchez was revived and survived. He had, however, sustained a brain injury, skull fractures, extensive internal hemorrhaging, and a host of broken bones.
According to the law team representing the Sanchez family, “Fabian’s cognitive function, speech, and motor control remain severely impaired as a result of his injuries and he will require 24/7 care, therapy, and medical attention for the remainder of his life.”
Initially, the case included Martinez as a defendant. He was subsequently dismissed from the proceedings.
The matter was heard as a bench trial by Judge Wilfred J. Schneider, with no jury involved. On November 4, Judge Schneider found the allegations in the petition to be true, that the district had been negligent and was solely responsible for the injuries to the plaintiff. He approved a settlement in the sum of $28,634,547.61, along with medical damages of $70,000. The settlement included attorney’s fees of $11,476,000 and legal expenses in the amount of $2,509,452.39. Judge Schneider ordered the balance of $14,634,547.61 to be placed in a state minors trust. An arrangement was made that neither Fabian Sanchez nor any one acting on his behalf could sell the settlement funds and a trustee is to monitor the Fabian Sanchez minor trust.
The Sanchez family was represented by Jonathan Corey Teller of the Wilshire Law Firm and Ian Philip Samson and Rahul Ravipudi of the Panish Shea & Boyle Law Firm, as well as Holly Boyer. The district was represented by Priscilla Hernandez.
-Mark Gutglueck

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