Stephen J. Estey has been chosen as a Daily Journal Top Plaintiff Attorney for 2017.
The Daily Journal has been orchestrated by David Houston for the better part of twenty years; it is California’s largest legal news provider, read by most California lawyers. The Daily Journal reports on news and trends in the legal business, from litigation to corporate transactions and regulatory work in a variety of sectors. Those selected as Top Plaintiff Attorneys are announced every June, after a nomination and selection process that includes consideration of the noteworthy cases on which each attorney has focused.
Estey’s selection was based on his focus on ‘institutional’ child sex abuse, a timely, relevant and newsworthy topic — meaning children were in the care of a school, sports club, day care or church at the time they were abused. The Daily Journal considered three of Estey’s recent cases, and one of his current cases:
• Doe versus Evergreen Elementary School District: Four children sued a school district for disregarding warning signs and ignoring explicit reports of a teacher’s sexual abuse of students. The result was a settlement of 15 million dollars after one week of trial.
• Doe versus Pacific Health Systems: boys sued a substance abuse treatment facility for failing to properly screen and supervise volunteers. A volunteer with a history of substance abuse and criminal convictions molested the boys over the course of an entire year. The result was a 6.5 million dollar verdict — after a 10 thousand dollar offer.
• Jane Doe versus Roe Day Care Center: Three girls sued a day care center for failing to protect them from sex abuse. A teacher’s aide (with a previous written reprimand) was allowed unsupervised access to the girls. The result was a 9 million dollar settlement after opening statements were given.
• Gatt, et al. versus USA Taekwondo and US Olympic Committee: Three young athletes suing USAT and USOC for failing to investigate a coach accused of sex abuse. The case is on appeal on a legal issue — whether USAT and USOC owe a duty to athletes to protect them from sexual abuse by coaches. It is expected that the appellate court will reaffirm the law, allowing the case to continue to trial.
In each of these four, Estey is quick to remind us that his young clients are survivors and not victims. Estey states, “My goal is to take the blame and shame they’re feeling, and redirect it to the institutions that failed to protect them in the first place.”