Sunday, June 02, 2013

Appeals Court Says Negligence Claim Against Assemblies of God District Council In Abuse Case Must Go To Jury

In John Doe 169 v. Brandon, (MN Ct. App., May 28, 2013), a Minnesota state appeals court reversed a trial court's dismissal of a negligence suit filed against the Minnesota District Council of the Assemblies of God Church.  Plaintiff was sexually abused by an ordained minister who was a volunteer in an Assemblies of God youth ministry program. The court held:
Because no showing of a special relationship is required and there is sufficient evidence to permit a jury to conclude that respondent had knowledge of the minister’s history of inappropriate relationships with youth while employed as a youth minister, the record is sufficient to require a jury to consider the issue of foreseeability....
The issue ... is simply whether providing “initial approval” of Brandon’s annual renewal form, when respondent knew about Brandon’s history of inappropriate relationships with male youths, created a situation in which Brandon’s sexual abuse of appellant was foreseeable. This claim does not require consideration of church doctrine, governance, or bylaws. Because appellant’s claim can be considered under neutral principles of negligence law, respondent’s constitutional claim fails.