THE CAUSES OF ACTION FOR NEGLIGENT SUPERVISION (OF THE PLAINTIFF-STUDENT) AND NEGLIGENT FAILURE TO WARN (THE PLAINTIFF-STUDENT) SHOULD NOT HAVE BEEN DISMISSED IN THIS CHILD VICTIMS ACT CASE; THE COMPLAINT ALLEGED PLAINTIFF WAS SENT TO A PRIEST NOT EMPLOYED BY THE SCHOOL FOR DISCIPLINE AND WAS MOLESTED BY THE PRIEST (SECOND DEPT).
The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined the negligent supervision and negligent failure to warn causes of action against defendant Catholic school should not have been dismissed in this Child Victims Act case. Plaintiff alleged he was sent by the school to a priest, who was not employed by the school, for discipline. Plaintiff alleged he was molested by the priest and the school knew or should have known of the priest’s propensity:
The complaint alleges … the defendant knew or should have known of the priest’s propensity to molest children, that the defendant had a duty to exercise the same duty of care of supervision over its minor students as a reasonably prudent parent would, and that the defendant breached its duty to adequately supervise the plaintiff which caused him to be sexually abused by the priest. … … [T]he fact that the sexual abuse occurred off school premises does not require dismissal of the cause of action alleging negligent supervision since, here, the plaintiff has alleged that the defendant released the plaintiff into a potentially hazardous situation and directed him to see a certain priest for discipline knowing that the priest had a propensity to sexually abuse children … . … [T]he criminal intervention of a third party may be a reasonably foreseeable consequence of circumstances created by the defendant, for example where, as here, the plaintiff was permitted to meet with the priest, a person who allegedly had a propensity to abuse children, alone and behind closed doors … .
… Supreme Court erred in determining that the cause of action alleging negligent failure to warn was subject to dismissal because it was duplicative of the cause of action alleging negligent supervision. … [T]hese causes of action are based on distinctive facts, one based on failing to warn the plaintiff about the priest and the other based on the defendant’s failure to adequately supervise the plaintiff … . Sullivan v St. Ephrem R.C. Parish Church, 2023 NY Slip Op 01207, Second Dept 3-8-23
Practice Point: Here plaintiff alleged the Catholic school sent him to a priest, who was not employed by the school, for school-related discipline and the priest molested him. The causes of action for negligent supervision of the plaintiff-student and failure to warn the plaintiff-student should not have been dismissed. The fact that the priest was not employed by the school did not require dismissal because the school allegedly released the plaintiff into a dangerous situation. Nor did the fact that the priest allegedly committed criminal acts relieve the school of potential liability.