The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the parish and diocese defendants’ motions to dismiss the breach of fiduciary duty cause of action in this Child Victims Act case should have been granted. Plaintiff alleged he was sexually abused when he was 10 in 1973 by a priest and teacher in elementary school. Plaintiff alleged the parish and the school were overseen by the diocese:
“[T]he elements of a cause of action to recover damages for breach of fiduciary duty are (1) the existence of a fiduciary relationship, (2) misconduct by the defendant, and (3) damages directly caused by the defendants misconduct” … .. A cause of action to recover damages for breach of fiduciary duty must be pleaded with particularity under CPLR 3016(b) … .
“A fiduciary relationship exists between two persons when one of them is under a duty to act for or to give advice for the benefit of another upon matters within the scope of the relation” … .Two essential elements of a fiduciary relationship are de facto control and dominance … .
Here, the amended complaint did not allege facts that would give rise to a fiduciary relationship between the plaintiff and the defendants. The amended complaint failed to allege facts that demonstrated that the plaintiff’s relationship with the defendants was somehow unique or distinct from the defendants’ relationships with other parishioners generally … . J. D. v Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, 2022 NY Slip Op 01766, Second Dept 3-16-22
Practice Point: Here the breach of a fiduciary duty cause of action against the parish and diocese which oversaw the elementary school where plaintiff allegedly was sexually abused was dismissed. There was nothing unique about the relationship between the defendants and plaintiff which set it apart from the relationships with the other parishioners.