Kyle Doe vs. CPS

“Hide Me, Hide Me, They’re Coming to Get Me.”

It was a plea for help that the beaten and terrified young man had repeated, in one form or another, countless times for over five years. This time however, the teen was standing bloody and half naked, with a large chain around his ankle, in the lobby of In-Shape City Sports Club located in Tracy, CA. Giving the ragged boy a banana and some water, gym personnel listened as the young man desperately tried to explain his situation, detailing what had happened and what could happen if these people did not help him.

He rambled, incoherently with blood streaming down his legs and his emaciated frame heaving from exhaustion. It was at that moment, for the first time in the young man’s short and brutal life that someone heard his cry – and put an end to the cycle of violence he had endured for so long.

In the ensuing weeks, the city of Sacramento-and the nation for that matter-would learn the full horrific scope of abuse that the young man named Kyle was forced to endure for so long. Beginning in the early 2000s, and until his brave escape in December of 2008, Kyle was subjected to unfathomable levels of torment at the hands of his illegally assigned guardian, Caren Ramirez. Investigators would eventually uncover evidence that indicated three other individuals contributed to Kyle’s anguish – Michael Luther Schumacher, his wife Kelly Layne Lau-Schumacher and their next-door neighbor Anthony Vincent Waiters. The sheer ferocity of the sadism involved was incomprehensible. It also begged the question – didn’t anyone know this was taking place? Didn’t anyone hear the young man’s call for help? And if they did, why wasn’t something done about it?

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As it turns out, both Sacramento Child Protective Services (CPS) and the County Sheriff’s Department were at least partially aware of the circumstances that Kyle found himself in – and failed on multiple occasions to take any action. Records indicated that both departments had dealt with Caren Ramirez and even arrested her for abusing the young man at one point. Yet the pattern of behavior persisted until the winter of 2008, when Kyle stumbled through the door of a local gym, begging for protection. Whether it stemmed from incompetence, laziness, or blatant disregard, the system had failed the young man terribly, which meant in some regard, it was responsible for his suffering. To that end, Kyle filed a civil suit against both the Sacramento CPS and the Sheriff’s Department, with Demas Law Group, P.C. acting as his counsel.

The case presented a number of challenges, but attorney John Demas was committed to answering Kyle’s call for help and ensuring that local and state agencies were held accountable for their negligence. After a hard fought battle, both the Sacramento CPS and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department were ordered to pay a record $4 million settlement to Kyle for their systematic failure to protect him. This was not only a first in the state but also a first for the law firm. We recently had a chance to sit down with John and discuss his thoughts on the case and what it meant for him and the rest of the team:

Kyle Doe Vs CPS

How did the Demas Law Group, P.C., get involved in the case initially?

A: “There were a couple of lawyers who looked at the case, rejected it, and then referred it to me. I immediately jumped on the case. Regardless of whether we were going to win or not I wanted to see what I could do to help Kyle. I was committed from the beginning to do my best to help him.”

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This isn’t a typical case for the firm. What compelled you to take it on?

A: “At the end of the day, what we do is help people who have been victimized or traumatized by different situations, whether it’s in motor vehicle accidents, construction accidents, defective products, or whatever the case may be. In Kyle’s case, it was obvious that he was screaming out for help; and that’s what we try to do for all our clients. Help them and represent them aggressively, do the best we can, and get them the best possible result. So even though this was not a case that we would normally handle, it still shared common elements found in all of our cases- which are -someone has been victimized and someone else needs to be held accountable.”

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What do you believe was the most challenging element of the case?

A: “There were a lot of complex and challenging legal issues that we had to deal with. The County didn’t roll over and settle quickly; they fought us tooth and nail from beginning to end, for over four years. So it wasn’t a situation where we resolved the case quickly and cheaply. It involved battling aggressive county counsel on very complex issues throughout the entirety of the case.”

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What impact do you think this case result will have on CPS?

A: “Given the amount of money the County put forth to resolve the claim, it is evident that they also believed there were major issues with the CPS system at the time. I would hope that this sends a message to CPS, that they can’t continue to operate the way they have been and realize that people are going to hold them accountable when they don’t follow their own rules, protocol, and the law.”

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How is Kyle today?

A: “Kyle is a remarkably resilient and strong kid and has received some great love and support from his aunt and uncle. I think they have been instrumental in providing him with a level of comfort and support he needed so desperately, and have helped him heal, grow and develop. Overall he’s made remarkable progress considering what he’s been through. He’s graduated from high school, he’s going to college, he’s playing football – and one can only hope that he continues to progress in a positive direction and put his past completely behind him.”

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Would the Demas Law Group, P.C., consider taking such a case on again?

A: “This is a unique case and, frankly, I don’t think there are many cases like it out there. One sure hopes that the level of oversight and incompetence that CPS demonstrated in this case would be difficult to encounter again. However, we are always willing to help anyone who might be in a similar situation as a result of another party’s negligence.”

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