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Givens v. St. Adalbert Church

Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Hartford, Hartford

January 24, 2017

GIVENS, MARY
v.
ST. ADALBERT CHURCH Et Al

          ORDER

          DAVID M SHERIDAN, Judge

         ORDER REGARDING:

         01/03/2017 327.00 MOTION TO REARGUE/RECONSIDER

         The foregoing, having been considered by the Court, is hereby:

         ORDER: DENIED

         Before the court are separate motions filed by the Hartford Roman Catholic Diocesan Corporation and St. Adalbert Church seeking reconsideration of the court's December 15, 2016 ruling on the defendants' motion for summary judgment.

         The Hartford Roman Catholic Diocesan Corporation requests that the court " reconsider the facts relative to the Diocesan Corporation as distinguished from the separate Parish Corporation and then to reconsider its conclusions" on the basis that " the Diocesan Corporation is a corporation separate and distinct from the Parish Corporation that did not operate the CCD program at St. Adalbert's, did not supervise Fr. Ramsay, and did not 'affirmatively create a situation' where adults were allowed to be alone with minors." (January 3, 3017 Motion to Reargue [#327], pp. 3 - 4).

         These are not arguments that were raised previously in the motion for summary judgment. Nowhere in the motion for summary judgment is it argued as a matter of undisputed fact that the Diocesan Corporation cannot be held liable because it " did not operate" the CCD program at St. Adalberts. That question of fact was not addressed in the briefing. As such, considering it at this point would represent a classic " second bite at the apple, " which is not the function of a motion to reargue. See JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. v. Eldon, 144 Conn.App. 260, 278, 73 A.3d 757, 768 (2013); see also Lynch v. Lynch, 153 Conn.App. 208, 245, 100 A.3d 968, 992 (2014) (motion to reargue improperly asked court to court to reevaluate the facts that had been before it during the hearing in order to arrive at a different calculation). Reargument on that basis is therefore denied.

         Both defendants' motions suggest that reconsideration is warranted because the court may have misapprehended certain facts. The defendants point to the court's summary in its written decision of the facts and circumstances surrounding the alleged abuse of the plaintiff which, in the view of the court, were sufficient to create a genuine dispute of material fact. The court stated: " In the present case, the evidence of negligent affirmative acts and negligent omissions by HRCDC and St. Adalbert, although scant, is sufficient to create a material issue of fact as to whether the plaintiff can satisfy the requirements of § 302B. The testimony of the plaintiff was to the effect that Father Ramsay was permitted to come to her classroom, remove her from the classroom with no more than a request to the instructor to 'see Mary outside', and take her to a locked ladies room 'down the hall' for which he had been given a key. He would return her to the classroom ten to fifteen minutes later without explanation, and without any questioning from the instructor."

         The defendants argue that the plaintiff's deposition testimony reflects only one occasion when she was taken out of her classroom by Father Ramsay. The court disagrees. At the outset, it is clear that the deposition testimony reflects multiple " acts" of improper sexual contact - approximately 12 - which occurred on the premises of St. Adalbert's from December 1977 through April 1979. In the absence ofcontrary evidence, it is reasonable to infer that the sequence of events leading to Ramsay being alone with the plaintiff was similar for all of those occasions.

         This is confirmed by the plaintiff's interrogatory responses, which were appended to her opposition. In her responses the plaintiff stated that there were multiple incidents of improper sexual contact. On each of those occasions " the incidents always took place while I was attending CYO [sic.] class when he [Ramsay] would come and pull me out of class." (See September 5, 2012 Responses to Interrogatories, Interrogatory No. 41).

         However, it is correct that the plaintiff was taken " behind locked doors" on only one of the occasions when she was removed from the classroom. On the other occasions the improper sexual contact occurred at the secluded end of a hallway. In the court's view, this does not change the analysis. Whether the defendants' affirmative acts exposed the plaintiff to a recognized high degree of risk of harm through the intentional misconduct of another is, under these facts, a jury question.

         The court's decision might have more accurately stated that " under these circumstances, a jury could reasonably conclude that the defendants had affirmatively created a situation where adults were permitted to remove a minor CCD student from the classroom and take that student to another part of the building where they would be alone or unobserved for up to fifteen minutes. Or, in the alternative, the defendants had failed to take precautions against adults under their supervision removing a minor CCD student from a classroom and taking that student to another part of the building where they would be alone or unobserved for up to fifteen minutes.

         These acts or omissions are of a sort that would lead to the 'peculiar conditions' which create a high degree of risk of intentional misconduct. Compar ...


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