Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Sex Abuse Suit Transferred to State Supreme Court

In Doe v. Marianist Province of the United States, (MO App., Dec. 31, 2019), a Missouri state appellate court said it would affirm the dismissal of portions of a lawsuit brought against the Marianist Province and a Catholic preparatory high school by a former student. However, according to the court, "due to the general interest and importance of the issues on appeal, we transfer the case to the Supreme Court of Missouri."  In the suit, plaintiff alleged abuse by a Marianist Brother who served as a guidance counselor at the school.  Judge Hoff, writing for herself and Judge Sullivan, said in part:
[B]ecause Appellant’s negligent supervision and negligent failure to supervise children claims would require interpretation of religion doctrine, policy, and administration amounting to an excessive entanglement between church and state, the trial court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of Respondents....
... [T]he record contains no competent evidence that Respondents had knowledge of Bro. Woulfe’s history of abuse in 1971 when Appellant suffered his abuse. As a result, Appellant failed to establish the existence of a genuine issue related to Respondents’ knowledge. The trial court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of Respondents on Appellant’s claim of intentional failure to supervise clergy.
Judge Quigless dissenting in part said:
While I concur with the majority in affirming the grant of summary judgment in favor of the respondents regarding the appellant’s negligence claims, I believe the record is sufficient to defeat the respondents’ motion for summary judgment on the claim of intentional failure to supervise clergy because a genuine issue exists as to the material fact of the respondents’ knowledge.