United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING ON MOTION TO DISMISS
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Roe (“Plaintiff”) has sued The Hotchkiss School
(“Defendant” or “Hotchkiss”) for
negligence, recklessness, negligent infliction of emotional
distress, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and
breach of fiduciary duty related to sexual abuse by a
Hotchkiss teacher. Complaint, ECF No. 1
has moved to dismiss the intentional infliction of emotional
distress and breach of fiduciary duty claims. Def.'s.
Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 29 (“Def.'s Mot. to
following reasons, Hotchkiss's motion to dismiss is
GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.
intentional infliction of emotional distress claim is
dismissed, but his breach of fiduciary duty claim remains.
FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
is a private boarding school in Lakeville, Connecticut.
Compl. at ¶ 1. In 1970, Hotchkiss hired Roy Smith to
teach in the school's English department. Id. at
¶ 22. Roy Smith allegedly immediately volunteered to
serve as the school's athletic trainer shortly after
being hired and acted as the only athletic trainer for
fifteen years. Id. Mr. Roe alleges that “[i]t
was well known and accepted” that “Smith groomed
and abused boys in his School-provided apartment in the
boys' dorms.” Id. at ¶ 28. Mr. Roe
further alleges that “Hotchkiss had a strong protective
culture that discouraged reporting and actively retaliated
against reporters” and that “Hotchkiss had no
policy for identifying or reporting sexual misconduct.”
Id. at ¶¶ 33, 34.
enrolled at Hotchkiss as a fifteen-year-old student.
Id. at ¶¶ 1, 3. He alleges that he
unknowingly “entered an environment of well-known and
tolerated sexual assaults and pedophilia.” Id.
at ¶ 3. He also alleges that Mr. Smith
“inappropriately touched [him] on several occasions,
and ultimately drugged and sexually assaulted him.”
Id. at ¶¶ 3, 22. Mr. Roe further alleges
that Mr. Smith's actions “were inflicted on school
property, during the school year, and under the noses of the
School's teachers and administrators.” Id.
at ¶ 3.
had Mr. Smith as an English teacher during his junior year at
Hotchkiss. Id. at ¶ 41. During that year, Mr.
Roe sought out and worked with Mr. Smith to revise almost
every paper he had written because Mr. Smith was a harsh
grader and he wanted a good grade in English in order to
apply to and get admitted to the best college or
university.” Id. at ¶ 43.
to Mr. Roe, “[b]y the end of the winter term, Richard
was regularly visiting Smith's dormitory apartment,
visiting at least every other week to revise drafts of
English class papers.” Id. at ¶ 52. When
Mr. Roe met with Mr. Smith at his apartment, he alleges that
“Smith established very clearly defined ritualized
conduct of his student, ” where “Richard always
had to sit side-by-side next to Smith on his couch” and
“Smith frequently ma[de] a point by rubbing or
squeezing Richard's upper thigh, or putting his arm over
Richard's shoulder as they looked at a document or book
together during these ‘study sessions.'”
Id. at ¶ 46.
occasion, Mr. Roe alleges that “Smith patted the back
of Richard's leg as Richard was leaving. Smith did so in
such a way as to hit Richard's testicles with his
fingers, ” which he dismissed as an accident.
Id. at ¶ 49.
another occasion, Mr. Roe alleges that “Smith patted
Richard's right thigh very high up, such that Smith hit
Richard's penis with his hand.” Id. at
¶ 50. After Richard moved Smith's hand, Smith
Mr. Roe alleges that Mr. Smith drugged and sexually assaulted
him before spring recess of his junior year. Mr. Roe claims
that he “had an appointment with Smith in his apartment
to finalize some revisions and discuss a new spring
project.” Id. at ¶ 53. After allegedly
entering Mr. Smith's apartment, “Richard sat on the
couch, and Smith offered Richard some tea. Smith had never
offered Richard food or beverages before, so Richard accepted
politely.” Id. at ¶ 54. Once he finished
the tea, Richard alleges that he closed his eyes while Mr.
Smith was out of the room. Id. at ¶ 57. When he
next opened his eyes, Mr. Roe alleges he could not move or
speak as Mr. Smith sexually assaulted him. Id. at
Mr. Roe awoke from the ordeal, he allegedly felt
“completely disoriented” and “thought
something bad had happened, but he did not know what.”
Id. at ¶ 59. According to Mr. Roe, he had
“unsteady legs” after leaving the apartment and
struggled to get down the staircase to his dorm. Id.
¶ 61. Mr. Roe claims to have felt nauseous,
“ashamed, confused, frightened, and in shock.”
Id. at ¶¶ 61, 63. In the aftermath of the
alleged sexual assault, Mr. Roe claims that his
“academic performance took a dramatic downturn.”
Id. at ¶ 64. While “his junior year had
begun with stellar academic performance, his teacher noticed
a distinct change in April, immediately after Smith drugged
and assaulted Richard.” Id. In addition, Mr.
Roe allegedly deteriorated physically after the assault,
losing over twenty pounds. Id. at ¶ 65.
to Roe, parents entrusted their minor children to
Hotchkiss' care for boarding school, “where
children live[d] for the majority of their school
years.” Id. at ¶14. With this trust,
Hotchkiss “is therefore responsible not only for the
children's education, but also their safety, their
protection, and their physical and emotional
well-being.” Id. Along with the trust parents
placed in Hotchkiss, Mr. Roe alleges that “Hotchkiss
administrators and faculty understood this was their
duty.” Id. at ¶ 15. And former Headmaster
Arthur White would say during orientation “Parents,
your job is to leave, ” which, according to Mr. Roe,
allegedly shows that Hotchkiss knew of its duty to protect
children from harm while they were away from their parents at
boarding school. Id.
alleges that Mr. Smith would have been unable to sexually
assault him without Hotchkiss' affirmative acts. These
affirmative acts included “housing Smith in and giving
him unfettered access to and authority over a boys'
dormitory, allowing him unsupervised access to vulnerable
young children, allowing him without any medical credentials
to give pills to children, and allowing him to work in the
athletics program and locker room areas where he was able to
touch and leer at the naked and partially-clothed bodies of
boys, ” which allegedly exposed Mr. Roe to a high risk
of harm. Id. at ¶ 38.
his time at Hotchkiss, Mr. Roe claims to have “suffered
school and career difficulty, difficulty sleeping, repeated
panic attacks, and intrusive nightmares and
flashbacks.” Id. at ¶ 66. Mr. Roe also
claims to have “struggled with thoughts of suicidal
ideation, planning, and even unsuccessful attempts to end his
life.” Id. Mr. Roe alleges that the trauma has
resulted in “emotional turmoil and feelings of
helplessness” that “led to excessive
self-medication through substance abuse.” Id.
And Mr. Roe alleges that his “ability to maintain
intimate physical, sexual, and emotional relationships with
other human beings has been irreparably damaged.”
Id. at ¶ 67. Most notably, Mr. Roe claims that
“[h]is personal relationships with friends, family, and
loved ones were damaged by his inability to form trusting
relationships.” Id. at ¶ 66.
October 12, 2018, Mr. Roe filed his Complaint against
Hotchkiss School, alleging negligence, recklessness,
negligent infliction of emotional distress, intentional
infliction of ...