Thursday, July 30, 2020

Canadian Court Says Catholic Archdiocese Is Vicariously Liable For Sexual Abuse At Orphanage

In John Doe v. Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John's, (Newfoundland & Labrador Ct. App., July 28, 2020), the Court of Appeal in the Canadian province of Newfoundland, in a 136-page opinion, held that the Catholic Archdiocese is vicariously liable for sexual abuse suffered by the four plaintiffs.  Five members of the Christian Brothers abused plaintiffs in the 1950's when they were living at the Mount Cashel Orphanage. The court said in part:
In our view, the total relationship between the Brothers at Mount Cashel and the Archdiocese shows that the Brothers were working on the account of the Archdiocese’s social and religious mandate. Their relationship was sufficiently close, and the connection between the Brothers’ assigned tasks and their wrongdoing was sufficiently close, to justify the imposition of vicarious liability on the Archdiocese. Doing so in the circumstances of this case upholds the policy objectives of the doctrine. 
The court held however that the Archdiocese is not liable for a chaplain's failure to act after he learned of the abuse, saying in part:
As Monsignor Ryan was not negligent and did not breach a fiduciary duty, there is no basis upon which the Archdiocese could be liable for his conduct.
Canadian Press reports on the decision.