Thursday, January 30, 2014


BY city news service FROM Beverly Hills Courier |

Posted Monday, January 28 – 5:30 PM  ::  (CNS) – Los Angeles Unified and the mother of a 17-year-old girl stabbed to death in 2011 at her high school in South Gate have reached a tentative settlement in her lawsuit against the district, an attorney for the plaintiffs said today.

Margarita Meza and Janet Santana, mother and sister, respectively, of Cindi Santana, brought the suit in Los Angeles Superior Court in March 2012, alleging wrongful death, negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress and asking for unspecified damages. The suit also named South East High School’s principal, Maria Sotomayor.

The family’s lawyer, David Lira, said the case was tentatively resolved Monday after a fourth day of discussions with Judge James Dunn. Lira said the LAUSD Board of Education is expected to vote by late March on whether to approve the settlement.

LAUSD spokesman Sean Rossall confirmed the tentative deal between Meza and the district and said he was happy the case could be resolved in a way that would allow the teen’s family to heal. He praised Lira for helping both sides reach a fair resolution.

Lira said his clients have endured a significant amount of stress and are happy the case has reached its current stage. He said they look forward to giving victim-impact statements at sentencing in the criminal case of the girl’s accused killer, Abraham Lopez of South Gate, should he be convicted.

Trial is scheduled for May.

Lopez is charged with one count each of murder and false imprisonment by violence, two counts of bringing or possessing weapons on school grounds and three counts each of assault with a deadly weapon and assault upon a peace officer.

He allegedly stabbed the victim multiple times during a lunchtime argument in a courtyard about 11 a.m. on Sept. 30, 2011. A varsity football player, 11th-grader Jorge Garcia, and a female dean, Christina Ordonez, were stabbed while trying to stop the attack, school police said.

According to the suit, Meza and her late daughter met with Sotomayor shortly before the attack to discuss threats Lopez allegedly made against her.

They also told the principal that Lopez was about to be released from jail for making the alleged menacing statements and that the girl was worried about what might happen to her, according to the complaint.

Sotomayor and the LAUSD promised them Cindi would be safe, according to the plaintiffs.

“In reality, (they) did nothing to protect Santana while (she) was attending school…,” the suit alleges. “Sadly, (their) actions and omissions led to Cindi’s death.”

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent John Deasy said shortly after the teen’s death that her mother notified Sotomayor about Lopez’s alleged threats and that campus security officials were on the lookout for him.

If convicted, Lopez could face life in prison with the possibility of parole, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

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