Cases & Deals

Jones Day San Diego reaches settlement of civil rights claims

Clients Vallery, Raynard

Pursuant to the Southern District of California's Plan for the Representation of Pro Se Litigants in Civil Cases, Jones Day San Diego was selected for pro bono representation of Raynard Vallery, the plaintiff in a civil rights action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. In 2008, Mr. Vallery sued correctional officers and prison officials at California State Prison (Calipatria) for claims arising from sexual assaults committed by a correctional officer under the guise of conducting searches. Mr. Vallery represented himself during discovery and pretrial litigation, and the Court concluded that he was entitled to a trial on his claims against the officer who committed the alleged sexual assaults and two other officers who allegedly were deliberately indifferent to the risk of sexual assault by their subordinate.

On October 2, 2013, the Court issued an order appointing Jones Day to represent Mr. Vallery. At that time, a jury trial was scheduled for December 2013. The Jones Day team met regularly with Mr. Vallery to begin preparing the case for trial. Mr. Vallery had relied on witness declarations at the summary judgment stage, so the Jones Day team investigated several witnesses with potentially favorable testimony and took the depositions of two inmates for potential use at trial.

At a critical juncture in the case, Jones Day persuaded the Court to continue the trial date and permit the depositions of the three defendants. Testimony elicited in these depositions proved essential as the Jones Day team built a strong, trial-ready case on behalf of Mr. Vallery.

In late February, with a trial date of March 3, 2014 close at hand, the Court ordered a settlement conference and took the extraordinary step of ordering the Warden to transport Mr. Vallery to the courthouse so that he could appear in person and participate in the settlement conference before the magistrate judge. Armed with the defendants' deposition testimony, Jones Day attorneys Kelly V. O'Donnell and Mhairi L. Whitton made a presentation highlighting the strengths of Mr. Vallery's claims, and the risks to defendants of trying the case. Defendants agreed to a settlement that included payment of $9,500 to Mr. Vallery – an impressive amount for this type of case. Mr. Vallery was extremely happy with the outcome. He believed that the settlement represented a successful resolution to more than six years of litigation.

Vallery v. Brown, et al., Case No. 08-CV-0095 CAB (RBB) (S.D. Cal.)

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