January 18, 2005

$68M case against Nashville Diocese will proceed

Nashville Business Journal

In a unanimous decision, the Tennessee Supreme Court has cleared the way for a $68 million sexual child abuse lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nashville to go forward.

The ruling sets a new legal standard for finding reckless infliction of emotional distress. The court's decision holds that reckless infliction of emotional distress doesn't have to be based on conduct that was directed at a specific person, or that took place in the presence of the plaintiff.

The decision, which reverses appellate court and trial court decisions, involves consolidated lawsuits against the diocese by two boys who were sexually abused by a former priest with a long history of child molestation. The mother of one of the boys also is a plaintiff.

The lower courts had held that a defendant's "reckless or intentional" conduct must be directed at a particular plaintiff, or the plaintiff must have a close relationship with the person at whom the conduct was directed.

Posted by kshaw at January 18, 2005 05:16 PM