January 19, 2005

Court clears way for priest lawsuit

Nashville City Paper

By Judith R. Tackett, jtackett@nashvillecitypaper.com
January 19, 2005

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

The unanimous decision of the Supreme Court justices sets a new legal standard for reckless infliction of emotional distress.

"We hold that reckless infliction of emotional distress need not be based upon conduct that was directed at a specific person or that occurred in the presence of the plaintiff," Chief Justice Frank F. Drowota, III, wrote in the opinion filed Tuesday.

The decision follows an October hearing of consolidated lawsuits against the Catholic Diocese by two boys who were sexually abused by a former priest and reverses Court of Appeals and trial court decisions.

The two boys, now in their early 20s, claim the Roman Catholic Diocese of Nashville was to be held responsible for the abuse they suffered because they allege failure on the part of church officials to properly report former priest Edward McKeown's conduct to authorities after they discovered the priest's sexual abuse.

Posted by kshaw at January 19, 2005 08:45 AM