Landmark Louisiana Supreme Court Decision: Increasing Civil Damages for Sexual Abuse Victims

September 11, 2023 Sexual Abuse

Landmark Louisiana Supreme Court Decision: Increasing Civil Damages for Sexual Abuse Victims

Louisiana Supreme Court CD vs. SC protects sexual abuse victimsIn an era where sexual abuse victims face many obstacles in the pursuit of justice, the recent Louisiana Supreme Court decision in CD, et al. vs. SC, et al.* offers a new way forward. Specifically, the decision in question is from the court case of CD, individually and on behalf of the minor, SD, vs. SC, individually and as the parent and guardian of DJ, Rock Solid Camps, LLC, and the State of Louisiana, Department of Health and Hospitals. Learn more about this groundbreaking case and its potential impact on future Louisiana judgments and awards with Mansfield Melancon Cranmer & Dick (MMCD).

*Initials are used in place of full names to protect the identities of minors involved in the case.

Louisiana Supreme Court CD vs. SC: Case Background

This case involved a tragic incident in which SD, an eight-year-old special needs student with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, was sexually assaulted by DJ on the property of Rock Solid Camp in Shreveport, Louisiana. Although DJ was on probation following the aggravated sexual assault of a child under 14 years of age in Texas, the State of Louisiana paid DJ’s camp tuition, facilitating the circumstances that led to the assault of SD. As SD’s father, CD filed a petition for damages against SC, Rock Solid Camps, LLC, and the State of Louisiana in light of this horrific incident.

The Original Verdict

The jury found all defendants liable, allocating fault as follows: 

  • 65% to the State 
  • 30% to Rock Solid Camps, LLC 
  • 5% to SC 

The jury awarded general damages for pain and suffering and emotional damages to SD at $1,250,000, considering SD’s vulnerability and the further challenges he faced following the incident.

The Appeal and the Supreme Court Decision

Following the initial verdict, the original judgment was reviewed by the Louisiana Second Circuit Court of Appeal. The court of appeal dramatically reduced the general damages awarded to SD, slashing the award from $1,250,000 to $250,000. However, when the court of appeal’s decision was brought before the Supreme Court of Louisiana, the Supreme Court found the award reduction to be in error. In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court upheld the original jury award, reinstating the jury’s $1,250,000 award of general damages.

Implications of the Decision

The CD vs. SC decision by the Louisiana Supreme Court is a breakthrough, not just for SD and CD but for sexual assault victims in Louisiana in general, as it sets a ceiling that will protect Louisiana sexual abuse victims from having their general damages award drastically reduced on appeal in the future. The Supreme Court emphasized that the role of an appellate court is to review the exercise of discretion by the trier of fact rather than deciding what it considers to be an appropriate award.  

A Victory for Louisiana Victims

The Louisiana Supreme Court’s decision marks a significant step towards justice for sexual abuse victims. As this landmark decision reverberates across the legal landscape, it serves as a beacon of hope, especially for victims like SD, ensuring their trauma isn’t overshadowed and they receive the fair compensation they deserve.

The attorneys of Mansfield Melancon – Injury Lawyers understand the challenges victims of sexual assault, rape, and other forms of violence go through. We are committed to providing compassionate representation while fighting to protect our clients’ rights.