Claggett & Sykes Wins Record $485 Million Sexual Abuse Verdict

In July, our trial team completed a trial in New Mexico where the jury returned a verdict of $485 million. We believe this is the largest single-plaintiff sexual abuse verdict ever.

The case involved claims against a national healthcare company, Acadia Healthcare, Inc., for its involvement in placing children in a foster care home with a known sexual predator.

Acadia owns hundreds of residential treatment centers across the country. Acadia is the parent company of Youth and Family Centered Services (doing business as Desert Hills). Desert Hills is a defunct residential treatment center in New Mexico. The State of New Mexico revoked the license of the facility in 2019.

Familyworks is another company owned by Acadia. Familyworks was licensed by the State of New Mexico to recruit, train, and monitor foster parents. But Familyworks was run by Desert Hills and Acadia.

Familyworks placed our eight-year-old client in the home of Clarence Garcia, despite knowledge of abuse allegations against him dating back to the year 2000. Garcia was accused of sexually assaulting numerous foster children. He later pleaded guilty to seven counts of criminal sexual contact with a minor.

The lawsuit alleged that “Familyworks had unqualified employees, was understaffed, failed to follow or enforce policies and procedures, engaged in a pattern and practice of merely placing foster children to fill beds, and had incidents of physical and sexual assaults of foster children by foster families…”

The damages include:

  • $80 million in compensatory damages
  • $250 million in punitive damages against Acadia
  • $75 million in punitive damages against Desert Hills
  • $75 million in punitive damages against Familyworks
  • $5 million in punitive damages against Garcia

We are honored to represent G.S. This verdict shows that she is valued and what happened to her should never have happened. We also represent two more victims who Acadia placed into Garcia’s home and suffered similar abuse.  Our next trial against Acadia is set for January 2024.

It takes a team to get a verdict like this. Sean Claggett, Geordan Logan, Jen Morales, and Sam Harding made up our trial team in New Mexico. Our co-counsel on the case included Josh Conaway and Rich Hardy of Fadduol, Cluff, Hardy, & Conaway; Mike Hart of Martinez Hart Sanchez & Romero; and Nikko Harada of Harada & Winters.

If you have questions about a potential abuse case, please do not hesitate to contact our Las Vegas or Reno offices, or fill out our contact form to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.