Monthly Archives: August 2013


Jason Booth and Steven Diaz were successful in defending the Los Angeles Unified School District (“LAUSD”) in a suit brought by Elizabeth Adger on behalf of her son, a child attending a school within the LAUSD, alleging negligent Supervision of School Premises.  Ms. Adger alleged that her autistic son was abused by his Behavior Therapist, who was employed by a co-defendant and supervised by the school principal.  The Behavior Therapist was alleged to have screamed at the child in anger and slammed the lid of a plastic “pencil box” on his hand, repeatedly and violently.  The “pencil box incident” was reportedly observed by the mother of another student as she passed by the classroom in which the event allegedly occurred.  The child had also reported to the investigating police officers that the Behavior Therapist had yelled at him in the past and pushed him against a wall.  Three years after the alleged incident, the child claimed that the Behavior Therapist had committed other acts of physical and verbal abuse for several weeks leading up to the “pencil box incident.”

The jury trial commenced on July 15, 2013, and lasted four weeks.  Jason and Steve presented evidence to establish that the witness to the event had leapt to an understandable, but incorrect conclusion that she had seen an incident of abuse.  Instead, the witness observed a tantrum being thrown by the child and an effort by the Behavior Therapist to calm him down.  They also demonstrated that had the Behavior Therapist committed the acts alleged, there would have been considerable injury to the child’s hand, but the police officers investigating the incident that day saw no evidence of any physical harm to the child.  Psychologist, Dr. Jeffrey Wood of UCLA, testified for the plaintiff and concluded that the child was suffering from PTSD as a result of the alleged abuse.  However, Jason challenged the basis of the conclusion, and elicited testimony from the child’s prior treating physician, who testified to his pre-existing behavioral and anxiety issues, contradicting plaintiff’s assertions.

The jury returned a defense verdict after deliberating for only one day.  The jury voted 10-2 in favor of the LAUSD, finding no negligence in its supervision of the school.