Cuyahoga County Court awards nanny-school Plaintiffs an additional $400,000-plus in damages and fees after appeal

This afternoon, Judge Brian Corrigan of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas issued a ruling in Cruz v. English Nanny & Governess School, increasing the original $329,158.30 judgment to Plaintiffs by $413,172.63, for a total award of $742,330.93.

This new judgment was the result of a cross-appeal by Plaintiffs Christina Cruz (a former student of the English Nanny & Governess School) and Heidi Kaiser (a former employee), after a five week jury-trial after which Ms. Cruz and Ms. Kaiser were awarded $392,750 in compensatory and punitive damages, plus attorneys fees. The jury’s award was based on evidence showing that the nanny-training school and placement agency in Chagrin Falls, Ohio and its owners, defendants Sheilagh Roth and Bradford Gaylord, retaliated against Cruz and Kaiser when they resisted defendants’ efforts to suppress Ms. Cruz’s report that she witnessed the defendants’ client sexually abusing his nine-year-old daughter.

After the original judgment was reduced due to the enforcement of statutorily mandated punitive damages caps, and the trial judge’s decision to negate the jury’s $75,000 economic damages award to Ms. Cruz, the Defendants filed an appeal seeking to overturn the entire jury verdict.

The Eighth District Court of Appeals rejected both of the Defendants’ assignments of error on appeal, and granted all three assignments of error that the Plaintiffs’ raised on cross-appeal—including that the trial Court erred in reducing the $75,000 economic damages award, and in awarding Plaintiffs an insufficient award of attorneys’ fees. Today’s order resulted from the Eighth District’s remand to the trial court for reconsideration of these two issues.

The suit, captioned Cruz, et al. v. English Nanny & Governess School, et al., Cuyahoga C.P. No. CV-2011-768767, was filed in 2011. Peter Pattakos, now of The Pattakos Law Firm in Fairlawn, Ohio, has served as lead counsel for the Plaintiffs since the case’s inception, and has worked with co-counsel from Cohen Rosenthal & Kramer and The Chandra Law Firm in Cleveland, including co-trial counsel Sandhya Gupta, as well as James Rosenthal, Ellen Kramer, Subodh Chandra, and Patrick Haney. A copy of Judge Corrigan’s recent ruling is available here, and more details about the underlying case are included in the press releases here and here, and in the Cleveland Scene magazine article found here.