The Fourth Department, in a full-fledged opinion by Justice Smith, determined Supreme Court properly allowed plaintiff to proceed under a pseudonym in her personal injury action against the school district and an individual defendant pursuant to the Child Victims Act (CBA). Plaintiff alleged she was sexually abused in the 1980’s by a guidance counselor at her high school:
… [P]laintiff alleged that she was employed by the county in which these allegations arose, that her job may be in jeopardy as a result of the allegations, and that she experienced “emotional distress, suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, feelings of worthlessness, and many other psychological damages, painful feelings, emotions, nightmares, flashbacks, as well as physical manifestations of these problems” that would recur if her name was publicized.
… [T]he record establishes that plaintiff has disclosed her name to defendants, thereby minimizing any prejudice arising from her use of a pseudonym for the purposes of discovery and investigation, and defendants have not asserted any other prejudice that they will sustain therefrom. An additional factor supporting the court’s determination is that plaintiff did not seek, nor did the court order, that the records in the case be sealed or that public access be denied. Thus, the public’s interest in open court proceedings is preserved … . Although the School and defendant Amherst Central School District are governmental entities, which supports plaintiff’s position, defendant John Koch … is an individual, which favors defendants’ position. Thus, there is no clear advantage to either side with respect to that factor. PB-7 Doe v Amherst Cent. Sch. Dist., 2021 NY Slip Op 02969, Fourth Dept 5-7-21