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Case 8:17-cv-03325-PX Document 11-1 Filed 11/09/17 Page 1 of 15

I IN THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE SIXTH JUDICIAL—CIRCUIT IN AND FOR


MONTGOMERY COUNTY, MARYLAND

JANE DOE, by and through

her Guardian, individually

Plaintiff;

v. Case No.:
V435268

MONTGOMERY COUNTY BOARD


OF EDUCATION,
Serve en:
Larry A. Bowers
350 Hungefford Drive
Rock*ille, MD 20350

Defendant.

AMENDED COMPLAINT AND DEMAND FOR JURY TRIAL

Plaintiff, JANE DOE, by and through her Guardian, individually, by and through the

undersigned counsel, hereby files this Amended Complaint against Defendant,

MONTGOMERY COUNTY PUBLIC BOARD OF EDUCATION, ROCKVILLE,

MARYLAND, and alleges as follows:

NATURE OF THE ACTION


Case 8:17-cv-03325-PX Document 11-1 Filed 11/09/17 Page 2 of 15

I, This action arises out of the sexual abuse of a student by a school teacher, and

Defendants' utter failure to protect the student from the abuse even as the Principal of the

school and Chief Operating Officer of the School Board became aware of the teacher's

repeated acts of sexual harassment and assault of students under his care and control.

PARTIES, JURISDICTION, AND VENUE

Plai ntiff,,lANE DOE, is a minor female, born in November of 2004, who is re-- --- Formatted: Normal, Justified, Indent: First
line: 0.5, Line spacing: Double, No bullets or
numbering
citizen and resident of Crownsville, Maryland. ylaintiff is identified in this lawsuit by the Formatted: Default Paragraph Font

pseudonym JANE DOE ("JANE DOE"), in that this case involves facts of the utmost
I Formatted: Default Paragraph Font

intimacy regarding Plaintiff's childhood sexual abuse, and Plaintiff fears further

psychological injury if her name were publicly disclosed.

Guardian is sui juris and an adult resident of Crownsville, Maryland. She is

the legal guardian of JANE DOE.

At all times material to this cause of action, Defendant MONTGOMERY

COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION ("SCHOOL BOARD") was an entity organized and

existing under the laws of Maryland, with its principal office located at 850 Hun gerford

Drive, Rockville MD 20850. The SCHOOL BOARD, at all relevant times, operated the

Montgomery County Public Schools.

Defendant SCHOOL BOARD is charged with the operation and control of.- - Formatted: Normal, Indent: First line: 0.5",
10 bullets or numbering

public kindergarten-12th grade education within the Montgomery County Schools. Joshua P.

Starr was the Superintendent of the Schools and managed its day-to-day operations from

2011 to 2014. After Joshua Starr's tenure, Larry A. Bowers, the Chief Operating Officer, was

appointed interim superintendent in 2014. In 2015, Dr. Jack Smith was appointed as the
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Case 8:17-cv-03325-PX Document 11-1 Filed 11/09/17 Page 3 of 15

superintendent. The SCHOOL BOARD operates, controls, and maintains Cloverly

Elementary School ("the School") in Montgomery County, Florida. JANE DOE was a

student at the School at all relevant times.

Plaintiff seeks damages of not less than $5 million, which is in excess of the.- - Formatted: Normal, Justified, Indent First
4: line: 0.5", Line spacing: Double, No bullets or
numbering
$25,000 jurisdictional minimum of this Court, exclusive of interest, costs, and attorneys'

fees.

▪ The acts and conduct giving rise to liability in this case occurred in

Montgomery County, Maryland.

S, This Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to Section

1-501 of the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article of the Maryland Annotated Code.

This Court has personal jurisdiction over Defendant because Defendant is

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domiciled in the state of Maryland. ,See MD. CODE ANN., CTS. & JUD. PROC. § 6-

102(a).

FACTS COMMON TO ALL COUNTS

10. At all times relevant to this lawsuit, Jane Doe was a student enrolled in

Cloverly Elementary School.

I I, At all times relevant to this lawsuit, JOHN VIGNA was employed as a

teacher of Cloverly Elementary School by the SCHOOL BOARD.

12. At all titnes relevant to this lawsuit, LARRY A. BOWERS was employed by

the SCHOOL BOARD.

A. Actual Notice of Sexual Harassment to Principal and Interim Superintendent and.- -{ Formatted: Underline

the School's Deliberate Indifference in Response to Actual Notice t Formatted: Line spacing: single
Liven-infer-mat'
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Formatted: Normal, Justified, Indent: First


On February 28, 2008, it was brought to the attention of the Principal, Me1issa ------- ,....
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numbering
Brunson ("Brunson"), that JOHN VIGNA was placing students on his lap,_, Formatted: Font: Not Italic

Upon—information and belief, following th 1—Eniseen4ue-43

Brunson et with JOHN VIGNA instfuet-ingand reprimanded

him notfor placing his students on his lap. JOHN VIGNA admitted his wrongdoing to

Brunson. Brunson gave JOHN VIGNA a verbal warning to desist from placing students on

his lap.

On May 30. 2008. Brunson was informed that once aeain, JOHN - Formatted: Normal, Justified, Indent: First
-14; line: 0.5", Line spacing: Double, No bullets or
numbering
continued to place students on his lap,. regardless of her verbal warning. Upon learning of

JOHN VIGN A's continual sexual harassment of his students. Brunson only recommended in

writing that he avail himself of the services provided by the Employees Assistance Program Formatted: Font: Not Italic

15. In 2013, Larry A. Bowers ("Bowers"), who was the Chief Operating Officer at

the time, became aware of similar allegations of JOHN VIGNA placing students on his lap,„;

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and lifting students in the air during class.,

16. Upon information and belief, an investigation was conducted into the 2013

allegations. Pending the investigation, JOHN VIGNA was removed from the classroom for a

{ Formatted: Font Not Italic


period of 3 weeks.,

JOHN VIGNA made a written statement promising to "make every effort to not have

any physical contact" with his students.

Once the investigation was complete, Bowers issued JOHN VIGNA another letter of

reprimand for the same sexual misconduct reported twice in 2008. placing students on his
Case 8:17-cv-03325-PX Document 11-1 Filed 11/09/17 Page 5 of 15

lap. Bowers "strongly su_gges ed" in his letter, that JOHN VIGNA seek assistance with the

school administration.

17. peapite the serious allegations and JOHN VIGNA's apparent disregard for the prior -Fer natted: Default Paragraph Font
-T—

feprimandreprimands„ he was permitted to return to work unrestricted after only three Formatted: Default Paragraph Font

weeks of investigation.

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line: 0.5", Line spacing: Double, No bullets or
numbering
VIGNA was issued another letter of reprime ex-aal-nviseencluet-Feperted-in

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20.0-8-,-pifteing.*udents-en-his4ap,„.

:The second letter of reprimand suggesting assistance, without more, was a Formatted: Default Paragraph Font
19.
1..._Formatted: Default Paragraph Font
clearly unreasonable response under--the-known-cir-amstaneesafter receiving three distinct

allegations of sexual harassment and assault of students by JOHN VIGNA, not reasonably { Formatted: Default Paragraph Font

intended to remedy the liar-a5smentmisconduct: .Firin—


atted: Default Paragraph Font

20: Upon information and belief, due to Brunson's concerns, JOHN VIGNA was

then transferred from a fifth grade classroom located in a portable, to a third grade classroom

located in a room inside the main school building near the front office., Formatted: Font: Not Italic

2-1, Brunson's response to the allegations of sexual assault of moving JOHN

VIGNA to a third grade class closer to the front office was detrimental to the students under

his care. Firstly, though JOHN VIGNA was closer to the front office, this was a futile

corrective measure since he was not being supervised and, as a result, continued to sexually

assault, abuse or harass his students, including JANE DOE. Secondly, third grade students

are a more vulnerable population susceptible to grooming and sexual abuse; therefore,
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Brunson's remedial measure was not only unreasonable, but also facilitated JOHN VIGNA's

{ Formatted: Font: Not Italic


predatory intentions,,

As a result of the SCHOOL BOARD's failure to properly investigate, supervise and

protect students in response to actual notice, it needlessly endangered students, resulting in

the continued sexual abuse of JANE DOE.

?1, Formatted: Normal, Justified, Indent: First


line: 0.5", Line spacing: Double, No bullets or
numbering
B. /Sexual Harassment and Abuse of JANE DOE Formatted: Underline

Upon information and belief, during the 2013 to 2014 school year, JOHN.-- - Formatted: Normal, Justified, Indent: First
line: 0.5", Line spacing: Double, No bullets or
numbering
VIGNA was JANE DOE's third grade teacher at Cloverly Elementary School.

24, Upon information and belief, during JANE DOE's third grade year, JOHN

VIGNA sexually harassed, assaulted, and abused JANE DOE on several occasions. The

sexual abuse included placing Jane Doe on his lap while he played a movie, and rubbing her

thighs, vagina, and buttocks almost daily over her clothes. On the days JANE DOE wore

skirts, his hands would be directly over her underwear while he committed these sexual

improprieties.

25. Upon information and belief, in JANE DOE's fourth and fifth grade year, she

attended JOHN VIGNA's class to assist him with his third grade students. JOHN VIGNA

also enticed JANE DOE to go to his classroom by buying her candy, gifts, books and paying

for field trips. JANE DOE visited JOHN VIGNA's classroom daily during lunch or right

before dismissal.
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26, Upon information and belief, during her fourth and fifth grade years, JOHN

VIGNA's sexual abuse of JANE DOE intensified. The sexual abuse included digital

penetration of JANE DOE's vagina while wearing a skirt, over her underwear, fondling of

JANE DOE's vagina under her clothes, attempting to stimulate her while making skin to skin

contact, and simulating sexual intercourse while JANE DOE sat on his lap. JANE DOE

recalls feeling JOHN VIGNA's erect penis while he simulated sexual intercourse and rubbed

against her vagina and buttocks.

27, JANE DOE was digitally penetrated on at least three different occasions, each

time lasting longer than the other. JANE DOE also recalls JOHN VIGNA's curled finger

penetrating further into her vagina by the third time.

28, JANE DOE did not disclose the sexual abuse by JOHN VIGNA until 2016,

when she attended a "body safety" class. Upon learning of "good touch" and "bad touch,"

she informed her school counselor of JOHN VIGNA's repeated acts of sexual abuse.

29: After the sexual abuse had been disclosed and reported to the authorities,

JOHN VIGNA was convicted of third degree sex offenses against four minors, including

JANE DOE.
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COUNT I - VIOLATION OF TITLE IX, EDUCATION AMENDMENTS OF 1972 --
20 U.S.C. 0681 ET SEQ. AGAINST THE SCHOOL BOARD

Plaintiff, JANE DOE readopts and real leges all of the allegations set forth in. - Formatted: Normal, Justified, Indent: First
line: 0,5", Line spacing: Double, No bullets or
numbering
Paragraphs I through 2931 as though fully set forth herein.

31. At all relevant times, Defendant SCHOOL BOARD received federal financial

assistance.
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32. Plaintiff JANE DOE had a right to not be subject to sexual discrimination,

harassment or abuse while she attended Cloverly Elementary School.

4'3, SCHOOL BOARD, through its agents and representatives, had actual notice

that JOHN VIGNA was sexually harassing, sexually assaulting and or sexually abusing

students. This included the School's Principal, Melissa Brunson, and Chief Operating

Officer, Larry A. Bowers, being informed twice in 2008 and once in 2013 about JOHN

VIGNA's common practice of having students sit on his lap. This placed the SCHOOL

BOARD on actual notice of JOHN VIGNA's propensity to commit sexual harassment.

sexual assault and. or sexual abuse upon JANE DOE and other students.

31. Brunson and Bowers, and other SCHOOL BOARD officials with actual

notice, had the responsibility to conduct a prompt, reliable, thorough, and impartial

investigation into all of the allegations of sexual harassment and sexual abuse of students by

JOHN VIGNA, which they failed to do upon receiving a-eempleimm ul tip le complaints about

JOHN VIGNA's sexual harassment of students in 2008 and in 2013. Brunson, Bowers, and

other SCHOOL BOARD officials with actual notice, had authority to address the acts of

sexual harassment of students by JOHN VIGNA and institute corrective measures. Instead,

even as to the allegations that they chose to investigate, no meaningful disciplinary action or

corrective measures were instituted by the SCHOOL BOARD, and any that were instituted,

were perfunctory, superficial, insufficient and wholly inadequate to address the misconduct

and protect students, including JANE DOE. Consequently, any corrective measures taken by

SCHOOL BOARD were clearly unreasonable and constituted deliberate indifference.

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The decisions of Brunson, Bowers, and SCHOOL BOARD to allow JOHN

VIGNA unfettered contacts with JANE DOE, and other students, subsequent to the above-

described notice of sexual harassment of students, without instituting any meaningful

corrective measures, were official decisions to ignore the danger of sexual harassment, sexual

assault and or sexual abuse to the children in their care.

34, Brunson and Bowers knew that JOHN VIGNA had sexually harassed and

sexually assaulted the students in his class by placing students on his lap despite the various

reprimands, and as a direct and proximate result of their deliberate indifference and failure to

act, JOHN VIGNA continued to sexually assault and sexually abuse JANE DOE on school

grounds.

3-7, In response to actual notice provided on different occasions that JOHN

VIGNA sexually harassed and sexually assaulted students in his class, Brunson, Bowers and

SCHOOL BOARD could have instituted any of a number of corrective measures that would

have prevented any sexual harassment or sexual abuse of students on school grounds

including without limitation, (i) termination of JOHN VIGNA; (ii) long-term suspension of

JOHN VIGNA; (iii) reassigning JOHN VIGNA to another position where he would have no

direct contact with students; (iv) reassigning JOHN VIGNA to another position where he

would have no authority over students; (v) reassigning JOHN VIGNA to another position

with older students more likely to report inappropriate behavior and better capable of

protecting themselves; (vi) assigning staff to monitor JOHN VIGNA's activities on school

grounds; (vii) utilizing surveillance equipment to monitor JOHN VIGNA's activities on

school grounds; (viii) notifying students and parents/guardians of JOHN VIGNA's conduct
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and its inappropriateness so that students might be more cautious when coming in contact

with him and more comfortable reporting any further suspected sexual harassment or sexual

abuse; and/or (ix) implementing any such other measures reasonably intended or designed to

protect students at the School, including JANE DOE, from sexual harassment or sexual

abuse. Despite receipt of actual notice, Brunson, Bowers, SCHOOL BOARD, and their

agents and representatives, acted with deliberate indifference in failing to institute any of the

above-mentioned corrective measures.

-1.3-&- As a result of this gross failure to act, JANE DOE was sexually harassed,

sexually abused, and sexually assaulted on school grounds.

39. As a direct and proximate result of the SCHOOL BOARD's deliberate

indifference in response to actual notice, Plaintiff JANE DOE has suffered severe

psychological, emotional and physical injuries, and emotional distress arising out of the

physical injuries, pain and suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience, loss of capacity for the

enjoyment of life, inability to lead a normal life, shame, humiliation and regression, costs

associated with medical/psychological care and treatment. Alternatively, Plaintiff sustained Formatted: Font color: Auto

an aggravation of an existing disease or mental or physical defect or activation of a latent

condition and the same losses associated with such. The injuries and damages are permanent

and continuing in nature and the Plaintiff will suffer such losses in the future.

,WHEREFORE, Plaintiff JANE DOE respectfully requests that this Court enter Formatted: Font Bold

judgment against the SCHOOL BOARD, and award all damages including compensatory

damages and special damages, costs, interest, attorneys' fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1988 in

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an amount in excess of $75.000. the precise amount to be established at trial, and any other

relief that this Court deems just and proper.

Count H- Negligence

Plaintiff. JANE DOE readopts and realleges all of the allegations set forth in

Paragraphs 1 through 31 as though fully set forth herein. 1


SCHOOL BOARD was in a "special relationship" with JANE DOE, such that it had

a duty to protect JANE DOE from foreseeable harm on school grounds and during school-

related activities. In this regard, SCHOOL BOARD was in loco parentis with the School's

students, including JANE DOE. At all material times. SCHOOL BOARD owed a duty to

protect. and ensure the safety. care, well-being and health of the minor JANE DOE while she

was under the care, custody or in the presence of the School. These duties encompassed the

protection of JANE DOE from harm by a School employee, and otherwise providing a safe

environment for JANE DOE while on School premises.

Defendant was in a "special relationship" with JOHN VIGNA oeemployer-employee.

such that it had a duty to take steps to make sure that JOHN VIGNA was safe before givino

him access to students.

Defendant knew or in the exercise of reasonable care should have known that JOHN

VIGNA was dangerous and a threat to the health. safety and welfare of his students,

including JANE DOE.

Defendant had a duty in hiring, retaining and supervising JOHN VIGNA to prevent

foreseeable hann to students and prevent educator sexual misconduct.

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Defendant by and through its agents. servants, and employees, knew or should have

known of JOHN VIGNA's dangerous sexual propensities, and that he was unfit to serve in

any position within the School involving contact with students.

Despite the SCHOOL BOARD's knowledge of JOHN VIGNA's dangerous sexual

propensities as described above, Defendant breached its duty to protect JANE DOE by

allowing JOHN VIGNA to serve as a teacher, diving him access to young students despite

knowing of his dangerous sexual propensities, and by failing to institute any supervision of

JOHN VIGNA's contact with students.

Defendant breached its duties by failine to protect the minor, JANE DOE, from

sexual assault, harassment and abuse committed upon JANE DOE while she was present on

school grounds, during school hours, or durina school-related activities.

At all relevant times, Defendant breached its duty in retaining and supervisine JOHN

VIGNA. which placed JOHN VIGNA in a position to sexually harass, assault and abuse

JANE DOE.

As a direct and proximate result of SCHOOL BOARD's breach of its duty relating to

the retention and supervision of JOHN VIGNA. whom the Defendant knew posed a

foreseeable risk of sexual misconduct with his students, JANE DOE was sexually harassed.

assaulted, and abused by JOHN VIGNA while attending the School.

Given the actual and constructive knowledge of the SCHOOL BOARD concerning

the dangerous propensities of JOHN VIGNA, the sexual abuse of JANE DOE was

reasonably foreseeable to the SCHOOL BOARD.

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With such actual and constructive knowledge. the SCHOOL BOARD retained JOHN

VIGNA. and failed to adequately supervise his acts and conduct with students, needlessly

endanoering JANE DOE's health and safety.

Because the SCHOOL BOARD was acting in loco parentis. it had a duty to warn

JANE DOE's guardian(s) that JOIN VIGNA posed a risk of harm to JANE DOE. and to

otherwise inform her guardian(s) of relevant information in their possession or control

concerning the sexual misconduct of JOHN VIGNA.

The SCHOOL BOARD breached its duty in failingto warn JANE DOE'S guardian(s)

about JOHN VIGNA.

At all relevant times, the SCHOOL BOARD created an environment which fostered

educator sexual misconduct with the children it had a duty to protect, including JANE DOE.

At all relevant times, the SCHOOL BOARD had inadequate policies and procedures

to protect children they were entrusted to care for and protect. including JANE DOE.

At all relevant times, the SCHOOL BOARD failed to adequately train staff in

protecting children from educator sexual misconduct,

The SCHOOL BOARD's negligent acts and omissions reflect a recklessness and

conscious disregard for the safety and well-being of female students. including JANE DOE.

As a direct and proximate result of the SCHOOL BOARD's negligence. Plaintiff

JANE DOE has suffered severe is chological emotional and ih sical in't r es and

emotional distress arising out of the physical injuries, pain and suffering, mental anguish.

inconvenience, loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, inability to lead a normal life,
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shame. humiliation and regression, costs associated with medical/psychological care and

treatment. Alternatively, Plaintiff sustained an aggravation of an existing disease or mental

or physical defect or activation of a latent condition and the same losses associated with

such. The injuries and damages are permanent and continuing in nature and the Plaintiff will

suffer such losses in the future.

WHEREFORE, Plaintiff JANE DOE respectfully requests, for purposes of the

negligent count only. that this Court enter judgment against the SC1100L BOARD and

award all damages including compensato damages and special damages any other relief

that this Court deems just and proper not in an amount not to exceed $100.000.

JURY TRIAL DEMAND

Plaintiff hereby requests a trial by jury on all issues contained in this Complaint.

Dated: August 10.2017

Respectfully submitted,

STEVENS. KELLY
SILVERMAN THOMPSON SLUTKIN & WHITE
LLC
201 N. Charles Street, Suite 2600
Baltimore, Maryland 21201
(410) 385-2225
Counsel for Plaintiffs

{ Formatted: Font: Not Italic

Jeffrey M. Heiman, pending pro hac vice (Formatted: Indent: Left: 3", First line: 0"

admission
Florida Bar No. 521647
Herman Law
3351 NW Boca Raton Blvd.

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Boca Raton, FL 33431


Tel: 305-931-2200
Fax: 305-931-0877
jherman®hermanlaw.com

Krisel McSweeney, pending pro hac vice— { Formatted: Indent: Left: r, First line: 0"
admission
Florida Bar No.: 112637
Herman Law
3351 NW Boca Raton Blvd.
Boca Raton, FL 33431
Tel: 305-931-2200
Fax: 305-931-0877
KMcSweeney@herrnanlaw.com

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