Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Missouri Supreme Court Upholds Some Claims of Failure To Supervise Abusive Clergy

In John Doe 122 v. Marianist Province of the United States, (MO Sup. Ct., April 6, 2021), the Missouri Supreme Court dismissed negligent supervision claims of plaintiff who was sexually abused by a Marianist brother in the early 1970's. In dismissing the claim, the court relied on its earlier precedent in Gibson v. Brewer, (1997). However the court reversed the trial court's dismissal of plaintiff's intentional failure to supervise claims, saying in part:

Using all of the evidence before them, including Father Doyle’s expert testimony, the jury may infer Chaminade knew the risk that Brother Woulfe would visit sexual abuse upon a student was certain or substantially certain and – if so – whether Chaminade disregarded that known risk. And they may not. The only issue before this Court, and the issue on which the circuit court erred, is whether Father Doyle’s testimony (taken together with all the other evidence) is sufficient for the jury to draw that inference reasonably if persuaded to do so. This Court concludes there is.... 

St. Louis Today reports on the decision.