Alexander Law Group partner Nina Shapirshteyn’s devotion to justice for Denis Flynn has provided this young man with the recognition, support, care and validation of our law that is the hallmark of a great trial lawyer and a stunning example of extraordinary advocacy and commitment to a client.
Over three years, since the filing of the complaint in March 2016 was reported in the press, Nina provided emotional support to Denis, reconnected him with his sister whom he lost when he was brought to the U.S. from Russia by his abusers, sought donations to support Denis as he struggled with telling his abuse story for the first time and served as a liaison between Denis and the Russian embassy, which took an interest in the story because of a Russian ban on adoptions by non-Russians.
In May, Nina took Ralph Flynn and Carolyn Flynn to bench trial before Hon. Brian C. Walsh, Santa Clara County Superior Court. Carolyn was defended by counsel who requested anonymity.
Judgment was entered on August 2, 2019 for compensatory damages of $26,000,000 and punitive damages of $2,000,000. The lawsuit sought damages for sexual assault and battery, childhood sexual abuse, sexual exploitation of a child, human trafficking, production of child pornography and intentional infliction of emotional harm.
Judge Walsh made the following findings, among others:
Denis Flynn was placed in an orphanage in Russia because of the illness of his mother, who died shortly thereafter. At age 9 he was adopted by Ralph Flynn and Carolyn Flynn and brought from the misery of the orphanage to the Flynn’s grand home overlooking Lake Vasona in Los Gatos. Soon after Denis’s arrival he was subjected by the Flynns to an unrelenting campaign of sexual abuse by both Ralph and Carolyn.
Though Carolyn’s intercourse with Denis began when he was 15, the circumstantial evidence established that she knew of, or intentionally turned a blind eye toward, Ralph’s abuse of Denis. Carolyn had to have known, in light of Ralph’s obvious sexual deviances, that the adoption of Denis was not for love and kindness but for sex and exploitation. When she took on the responsibilities of being Denis’s mother, Carolyn knew that she needed to protect and nurture Denis, to look behind locked doors, and to keep the child whom she had been entrusted away from the predator lurking in her home. For ten years she breached that maternal duty completely and horribly.
Judge Brian Walsh noted that Nelson Mandela said “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” And “There is no trust more sacred than the one the world holds with children. There is no duty more important than ensuring their rights are respect, that their welfare is protected, that their lives are free from fear and want.” — Kofi Anan.
Nina’s steadfast devotion to this young man and her advocacy reflects a great credit upon herself and upholds the highest traditions of the legal profession.
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