Thursday, October 29, 2009

Claims Against Archdiocese In Abuse Cases Do Not Violate First Amendment

In similar opinions handed down this week in two diversity cases, a Missouri federal district court held that it is required to make its own independent constitutional analysis in clergy sexual abuse cases to determine whether allowing negligent hiring, retention and supervision claims to be brought against the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis violates the First Amendment. The Missouri Supreme Court previously held that adjudicating such claims would be inconsistent with the First Amendment. In Ohl-Marsters v. Johnston, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99585 and McCormick v. Johnston, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 99587 (ED MO, Oct. 26, 2009), the court held that proceeding with these claims would not violate either the Free Exercise or the Establishment Clause. However the court dismissed breach of fiduciary duty claims and respondeat superior claims against the Archdiocese brought by both plaintiffs, finding that those claims were not supported by state law.