On Monday, October 22, 2018, Kamehameha Schools took a committed step to provide closure in a long-standing sexual abuse scandal that has scarred its legacy by paying $65 million to over 30 plaintiffs who claimed they were victimized by a psychiatric counselor employed by the private school system.
The payment stems from a sexual abuse lawsuit and an $80 million settlement secured by our firm’s Partner Mark S. Davis, along with Attorney Michael Green, and our legal team at Davis Levin Livingston. That settlement, reached in 2016, was filed by numerous men who claimed they were sexually abused by Dr. Robert Browne between the late 1950s and 1980s. Most of the victims were students at the private school and were typically 12 or 13 years of age when the abuse began. Depositions conducted in the case also created questions over whether school officials failed to take decisive action to stop the abuse, including sworn testimony admissions from former staff that they did not report allegations to law enforcement.
The suit named Kamehameha, where Browne was a psychiatric consultant, St. Francis Hospital, where he was Chief of Psychiatry, and Browne’s estate as defendants, and is regarded as the largest personal injury settlement in Hawaii history. Browne committed suicide at his home in Manoa in 1991 after being confronted about the past abuse by a former student.
Per the terms of the settlement, the remaining $15 million of the $80 million settlement will be paid by Kamehameha Schools following resolution of its case against the medical center, which was not involved in the settlement, as well as pending plaintiffs’ claims against St. Francis and its insurers. The settlement agreement further ensures victims will not have to wait indefinitely for the remaining compensation, as Kamehameha will be required to pay half of the $15 million if claims are unresolved as of March 2019, and the second half if they remain unresolved the following year.
Justice, Compensation & Change
Partner Mark S. Davis and our entire legal team at Davis Levin Livingston are pleased our clients will now be able to receive the compensation and sense of closure they rightfully deserve with the first major payment in the historic settlement. Though the circumstances surrounding the settlement are nothing short of a travesty, and while it was a long and difficult case, we commend our clients’ courageousness in stepping forward and are proud to have played a role in making their voices heard.
Compensation may not fully make amends for the incalculable pain and suffering our clients endured, but it can provide support and resources to cover past damages and any future related needs. As equally important, these results ensure even powerful entities can be held accountable, help raise awareness about important issues, and prompt needed changes that may prevent others from suffering in similar ways. As part of the settlement, for example, Kamehameha Schools agreed to create a fund that offers counseling and health care services to former and current students victimized by abuse. It will also continue its support of independent reporting hotlines for students, parents, and faculty.
Results such as this are precisely why our firm is dedicated to helping victims and families following inexcusable acts of negligence and misconduct – whether it be sexual abuse, medical malpractice, and birth injuries, or other preventable accidents.
Davis Levin Livingston: A Legacy of Fighting for Justice
Over more than 40 years, our team at Davis Levin Livingston has earned a reputation for bold and unwavering advocacy, and for our ability to harness the power of the civil justice system for victims and families when it matters most. While we take pride in our record-setting results, we feel the greatest fulfillment when we succeed for our kama'aina and all victims and families we represent.
For more information about our firm and the services we provide across the Hawaiian Islands, or to discuss a potential case of your own, call (808) 740-0633 or contact us online.