Ms. Cerri works closely with victims and their families to ensure that the well-being of the children always comes first, while working to hold accountable the institutions that failed to protect those children from sexual abuse.
Ms. Cerri was particularly proud in March 2022, when a Santa Clara County jury returned a $102.5 million verdict against the Union School District in San Jose. The case involved two former students who were sexually abused by their music teacher. The jury awarded Ms. Cerri’s client $65 million of the $102.5 million and attributed 80% of the fault to the District. The judgment on behalf of Ms. Cerri’s client is believed to be the largest single plaintiff sexual abuse judgment against a school district in California.
In another case against the Union School District, Ms. Cerri obtained a $7.5 million settlement on behalf of five men in their fifties, who were sexually abused by their elementary school teacher in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
Recognizing what is most important to victims and their parents, Ms. Cerri fights for more than just monetary compensation, taking legal action to mandate that institutions implement and enforce policies and procedures to better protect children from sexual abuse. She also lobbies state legislators to approve bills that better protect children from sexual predators.
From a sexual abuse survivor and former client:
Want to let you know I have made strides in growth and recovery. Even when I look back on everything I went through, I still see you as a pivotal supportive person that really helped me get through it all. Throughout all the people who’ve helped me, you are one of those rare ones where I felt our relationship was real. It was a special relationship that I needed, especially in the whole system of the legal stuff.
The Audrie Pott case is one example of Ms. Cerri’s lobbying work. Audrie was a high school student who was sexually assaulted in 2012 by three male classmates, and later bullied and shamed. She took her own life eight days later. Audrie’s case changed California law by increasing penalties for teens convicted of sexual acts against individuals who are incapable of giving their consent.
“Childhood sexual abuse cases are not just about compensating victims with money for their lifelong harm. A civil lawsuit allows us to work toward preventing future sexual abuse in schools, churches and other institutions responsible for failing to protect children from sexual predators,” Ms. Cerri said. “The reason we pursue these cases is to try to eliminate the problem and keep children safe.”
A case involving the Morgan Hill Unified School District that settled for $8.25 million is an example of how Ms. Cerri works to make that happen: the district was required to implement a student abuse prevention program that trains students to recognize and prevent sexual abuse, and trains staff on grooming signs and ways to identify sexual predators.
$65 million of $102.5 million jury verdict for student sexually abused by band director at Dartmouth Middle School
Jane Doe v Evergreen Elementary School District
Trial attorney for one of four sexual abuse victims in a case that resolved during trial for $15 million against San Jose’s Evergreen Elementary School District
Jane Doe v Unnamed Childcare Provider
Trial attorney in a sexual abuse case against a childcare provider that settled during trial for $9 million
Jane Doe v. United States Youth Soccer Association
Case resolved for $8.2 million on the eve of trial against US Soccer Association and its affiliate on behalf of a child sexually abused by her soccer coach due to the failure to mandate and conduct criminal background checks of coaches
John Doe v. Union School District
$7.5 million for five men sexually abused by their teacher in the late 1970s and early 1980s
Jane Doe v. Unnamed Private School
$3.5 million for student sexually abused by a teacher at a private high school
Jane Doe v. Unnamed Charter School
Case settled for $3.15 million. Sexual abuse of a student by a teacher’s aide at an unnamed charter school
Jane Doe v. EMQ Families First
$2 million. Group home employee sexually abused two children
Jane Doe v. New Haven Unified School District
$1.875 million for three students sexually abused by their elementary school teacher
John Doe v. San Ramon Unified School District and New Life Church of Alamo
$1.548 million. A high school wrestling coach and church youth group Leader sexually abused a young teenager
John Doe v. Jefferson School District
$1.2 million. A fourth-grade teacher sexually abused his student
Jane Doe v Unnamed Charter School
$1.2 million. A high school teacher sexually abused student
John Doe v. The Unity Care Group and County of Santa Clara
$1.105 million. A wraparound service provider sexually abused three foster children
Jane Doe v. Morgan Hill Unified School District and South Valley Dance Arts
$1.045 million to three children sexually abused by a theater technician
Jane Doe v. Los Banos Unified School District
$1 million. A high school drama teacher at Pacheco High School sexually abused his student
Jane Doe v. Jefferson School District
$900,000. Teacher sexually abused student
J.D., University of Connecticut School of Law, Hartford, CT, 2008
B.A., University of Connecticut, Hartford, CT, 2002
Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice
Professional & Bar Association Memberships
Santa Clara County Trial Lawyers Association, Board of Governors
Consumer Advocates of California
Santa Clara County Bar Association
American Association for Justice
Honors and Awards
- Santa Clara County, Trial Lawyer of the Year, 2022
- Santa Clara County, Trial Lawyer of the Year, 2016
- Northern California Super Lawyers, 2022
- Northern California Super Lawyers, Rising Star, 2015-2020
- New England Super Lawyers, Rising Star, 2010