United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Doe (“Plaintiff”) has sued The Hotchkiss School
(“Defendant” or “Hotchkiss”) for
state-law tort claims related to sexual abuse. Hotchkiss
moves for summary judgment in this case against John Doe.
Def's. Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 257.
following reasons, the Court GRANTS IN PART AND
DENIES IN PART Hotchkiss' Motion for Summary
claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress will
be dismissed, while Plaintiff's claims of negligence,
recklessness, negligent infliction of emotional distress, and
breach of fiduciary duty will proceed to trial.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
John Doe enrolled at Hotchkiss at the age of fourteen, he
allegedly “entered an environment of well-known and
tolerated sexual assaults, sexually violent hazing, and
pedophilia.” Compl., ECF No. 1. Upper classmen,
“including school-appointed senior dormitory proctors,
” allegedly assaulted him on multiple occasions,
id. at ¶¶ 19-22, and a teacher allegedly
sexually abused, drugged, and raped him. Id. at
Doe further alleges that “The Hotchkiss School charged
many thousands of dollars per year for the privilege of
attending the school and residing in a dormitory on school
grounds, ” and “Hotchkiss assumed responsibility
for, among other things, students' protection, safety and
well-being.” Id. at ¶¶ 9, 10. In his
view, Hotchkiss “accepted a duty to [him] and to other
minor children in its care and custody to do everything
within its power to protect them from sexual abuse by other
students and by the school's faculty, ” even while
“the school and administrators knew that there was a
history and tradition at the school of older male students .
. . subjecting younger students to sexual hazing.”
Id. at ¶¶ 12, 14.
allegedly predatory environment was “not disclosed to
John at any time prior to his arrival at the school, ”
and the “school and its teachers and administrators
permitted and condoned the tradition of hazing, and they
allowed sexual assaults to occur without punishment and
without even a meaningful threat of punishment.”
Id. at ¶¶ 15, 16.
Doe further alleges several sexual assaults by other students
and a muted response by faculty and staff, id. at
¶¶ 17-24, as well as sexual assault allegations
against a teacher and dormitory master that he alleges
Hotchkiss knew or should have known about. Id. at
¶¶ 25-45. John Doe believes that “the school
created a situation that it knew and should have known was
likely to be dangerous to John and to other young children in
its care, ” but “the school refused to take
appropriate precautions against the risk of harm.”
Id. at ¶¶ 46, 47.
allegedly suffering sexual abuse at the hands of other
students and a teacher, John Doe allegedly reported the
incidents to teachers, staff, and administrators that
“took no steps to protect John and other vulnerable
children from further assaults.” Id. at
¶¶ 49-57. John Doe alleges that the trauma he
suffered at Hotchkiss limits his “ability to engage in
normal . . . activities, ” “has adversely
affected his ability to enter into and maintain lasting
meaningful relationships, ” irreparably damaged his
“ability to maintain intimate physical, sexual and
emotional relationships, ” and caused “physical
pain and suffering, ” Id. at
February 5, 2015, John Doe filed a Complaint against
Hotchkiss for negligence, recklessness, negligent infliction
of emotional distress, intentional infliction of emotional
distress, and breach of fiduciary duty. Compl., ECF No. 1.
April 10, 2015, the parties jointly filed a Rule 26(f)
Report. ECF No. 17.
18, 2015, the Court granted a stay until the Connecticut
Supreme Court resolved Doe v. The Hartford Roman Catholic
Diocesan Corp., 317 Conn. 357 (2015). ECF No. 22. On
July 2, 2015, the Court lifted the Stay. ECF No. 25.
8, 2015, the parties jointly filed a supplemental Rule 26(f)
Report. ECF No. 26. On July 21, 2015, the Court approved a
revised 26(f) report. ECF Nos. 28, 29.
September 14, 2015, Hotchkiss answered the Complaint with
affirmative defenses. ECF No. 31.
April 18, 2016, the Court granted Attorney Antonio
Ponvert's motion to withdraw as attorney for John Doe.
ECF Nos. 40, 41.
1, 2016, Hotchkiss moved to stay, which the Court denied. ECF
Nos. 47, 50.
15, 2016, the parties jointly filed a supplemental Rule 26(f)
Report. ECF No. 51.
27, 2016, the Court held a telephonic status conference and
issued a scheduling order with modified deadlines. ECF Nos.
53, 54. The amended deadlines included a deadline for
Plaintiff to designate experts and provide any expert reports
by January 20, 2017.
December 9, 2016, Hotchkiss moved to compel discovery
responses. ECF No. 57. On December 12, 2016, the Court denied
the motion to compel without prejudice to renewal if the
parties did not resolve the discovery dispute after a
telephonic conference. ECF No. 61.
January 23, 2017, the parties jointly moved for a discovery
conference, which the Court granted. ECF Nos. 63, 64. On
January 31, 2017, the Court held a telephonic discovery
dispute conference. ECF No. 70.
March 17, 2017, the parties jointly moved for a discovery
conference, which the Court granted. ECF Nos. 73, 74.
March 28, 2017, the Court held another telephonic discovery
dispute status conference and issued an order requiring
Defendants to produce items designated by the Plaintiff. ECF
11, 2017, the parties jointly stipulated to Hotchkiss'
motion for independent medical examination, which the Court
granted. ECF Nos. 85, 86.
22, 2017, Hotchkiss moved for conference, which the Court
granted. ECF Nos. 99, 100. On July 5, 2017, the Court held a
telephonic discovery dispute conference where Plaintiff's
counsel informed the Court that counsel intended to withdraw
from the case immediately, even though depositions were
scheduled for the following day. ECF No. 104.
Court then issued an Order to Show Cause and requested that
John Doe appear with counsel at an ex parte proceeding by
telephone and show cause why Plaintiff's counsel should
not remain until after the deposition scheduled for tomorrow
had concluded or, in the alternative, why Plaintiff should
not be required to pay the costs incurred by Defendant, if
the deposition could not go forward. ECF No. 105.
5, 2017, the Court held a telephonic show cause hearing. ECF
No. 106. Based on the representations of John Doe and his
counsel during the ex parte telephonic show cause hearing,
the Court allowed the withdrawal of Plaintiff's counsel
and the July 6, 2017 deposition did not go forward. ECF No.
6, 2017, the Court granted the motion to withdraw John
Doe's second set of counsel. ECF No. 113. Considering the
issues discussed during the July 5, 2017 show cause hearing,
and due to the attorney motions to withdraw as counsel, the
Court ordered John Doe to appear at an August 11, 2017
telephonic status conference. ECF No. 112. Because of the age
of the case, the Court ordered John Doe to have new counsel
by the August 11, 2017 telephonic conference or proceed pro
Court cancelled the August 11, 2017 telephonic conference.
ECF No. 119. The Court issued an Order to Show Cause as to
why the Court should not dismiss the case for failure to
prosecute. ECF No. 120.
September 28, 2017, the Court held a show cause hearing. ECF
No. 126. On September 29, 2017, the Court issued an Order
directing John Doe to appear pro se, retain new counsel, or
provide a statement to the Court as to why the Court should
not dismiss the case for failure to prosecute. ECF No. 129.
In November 2017, John Doe hired new counsel. ECF Nos.
December 15, 2017, the parties jointly proposed a new
scheduling order, which the Court granted in part and denied
in part. ECF Nos. 143, 144. The parties' lone dispute was
whether the Plaintiff should be permitted to add new experts
after the deadline to do so; the Court concluded that John
Doe had not shown sufficient good cause to justify granting
leave to name additional experts after the deadline for such
disclosures and the lack of substantive movement in this case
since July 2017 had delayed the case long enough. ECF No.
144. The Court, however, did extend the deadlines for fact
discovery and the close of discovery to May 4, 2018 and June
1, 2018, respectively. Id.
January 29, 2018, the parties jointly stipulated to an
independent medical examination. ECF No. 148.
April 17, 2018, the Court held a telephonic status conference
and granted an oral motion to amend the scheduling order. ECF
14, 2018, the parties jointly moved for referral to a
magistrate for settlement purposes, which the Court granted.
ECF Nos. 178, 179. The Court referred the case to Magistrate
Judge Garfinkel for a settlement conference. ECF No. 180.
18, 2018, the parties jointly proposed a scheduling order
that the Court adopted. ECF Nos. 184, 188, 189.
25, 2018, Magistrate Judge Garfinkel held a telephonic
pre-settlement status conference. ECF No. 191.
18, 2018, the Court held a telephonic status conference,
denying without prejudice John Doe's motion for order and
granting Hotchkiss' motion for extension of time. ECF No.
3, 2018, Magistrate Judge Garfinkel held a settlement
conference with the parties, which did not result in a
settlement. ECF No. 207.
22, 2018, the parties jointly moved for a discovery
conference. ECF No. 199. On July 24, 2018, the Court held an
in-person status conference on discovery disputes. ECF No.
215. The same day, the Court issued an order on the joint
motion for discovery conference for Hotchkiss to provide the
Court with the disputed documents for in camera
review. ECF No. 217.
September 6, 6018, the Court held a post-discovery status
conference. ECF No. 235.
September 11, 2018, the Court held a telephonic status
conference regarding two disputed documents the Court
reviewed in camera, requiring parties to make
supplemental filings. ECF No. 239. On October 25, 2018, the
Court issued an order regarding the documents reviewed in
camera. ECF No. 254.
November 28, 2018, the Court held a hearing regarding pending
expert witness motions. ECF No. 267. The Court denied both
the motion in limine and motion for leave to add an
expert witness. ECF No. 268.
October 29, 2018, Hotchkiss moved for summary judgment. ECF
No. 257. On December 18, 2018, John Doe filed an opposition
to Hotchkiss' motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 274.
On December 21, 2018, after a telephonic status conference,
the Court struck John Doe's opposition. ECF No. 282. That
same day, John Doe re-filed his opposition to Hotchkiss'
motion for summary judgment. ECF No. 286. On January 25,
2019, Hotchkiss replied to John Doe's response. ECF No.
February 12, 2019, the Court held a hearing regarding
Hotchkiss' motion for summary judgment.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
will grant a motion for summary judgment when the record
shows no genuine issue as to any material fact, and the
movant is “entitled to judgment as a matter of
law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The moving party bears the
initial burden of establishing the absence of a genuine
dispute of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Cartrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). The non-moving party may defeat the
motion by producing specific facts to prove that there is a
genuine issue of material fact for trial. Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248-49 (1986).
mere existence of some alleged factual dispute
between the parties will not defeat an otherwise properly
supported motion for summary judgment; the requirement is
that there be no genuine issue of material
fact.” Id. at 247-48. The moving party,
however, may satisfy this burden by pointing to an absence of
evidence to support the non-moving party's case. See
PepsiCo, Inc. v. Coca-Cola Co., 315 F.3d 101, 105 (2d
Cir. 2002) (per curiam).
documentary evidence and sworn affidavits supporting a motion
for summary judgment “demonstrate the absence of a
genuine issue of material fact, ” the non-moving party
must do more than vaguely assert the existence of some
unspecified disputed material facts or “rely on
conclusory allegations or unsubstantiated speculation.”
Robinson v. Concentra Health Servs., Inc., 781 F.3d
42, 44 (2d Cir. 2015) (citation omitted). The party opposing
the motion for summary judgment “must come forward with
specific evidence demonstrating the existence of a genuine
dispute of material fact.” Id.; see also
Atkinson v. Rinaldi, 3:15-cv-913 (DJS), 2016 WL 7234087,
at *1 (D. Conn. Dec. 14, 2016) (holding non-moving party must
present evidence that would allow reasonable jury to find in
his favor to defeat motion for summary judgment);
Pelletier v. Armstrong, 3:99-cv-1559 (HBF), 2007 WL
685181, at *7 (D. ...