Law School Case Brief
Doe v. Priority Care, Inc. - No. CV064015734S, 2008 Conn. Super. LEXIS 2810 (Super. Ct. Oct. 27, 2008)
The knowledge of sexual abuse on the part of the parent and the failure to report it, although not yet specifically decided by the Supreme Court of Connecticut, is a situation closely akin to a direct allegation of sexual abuse by the parent. It is such an abhorrent act, completely destructive of family harmony, that it is difficult to imagine that the Supreme Court of Connecticut would not provide a further exemption under the doctrine of parental immunity for this type of situation.
Plaintiff Jane Doe brought an action against defendant Priority Care, Inc., claiming that the medical provider was liable for the alleged sexual assaults of her minor son, John Doe, by of one of its psychotherapists. In response to the suit, defendant medical provider filed an apportionment complaint against several individuals including John's mother, plaintiff Jane Doe. The claims of apportionment against Jane Doe were based on the mother's alleged failure to prevent her minor child from being sexually abused despite her alleged knowledge that such abuse was allegedly occurring. Plaintiff claimed that the doctrine of parental immunity barred the court from having subject matter jurisdiction regarding the apportionment complaint.
Did the doctrine of parental immunity apply in the case at bar?
The court found that the mother's alleged negligence did not concern parental discretion and supervision. Rather, the apportionment complaint stated, in relevant part, that the mother was notified and knew of or should have known of a potentially inappropriate relationship between the provider's employee, the psychotherapist, and the minor, but took no action to either investigate, report, or terminate the relationship. This was a violation of a duty owed to the general public. The alleged abuse took place outside of the family home and the professional behaviorist who allegedly abused the minor plaintiff had access to numerous other children. Under such circumstances, as alleged, it was incumbent upon the mother to affirmatively act upon the information made known to her. The court found that, under these circumstances, the doctrine of parental immunity did not apply. Further, plaintiff waited too long to challenge in personam jurisdiction, as the Conn. Gen. Prac. Book, R. Super. Ct. § 10-6 time period had expired.
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