This case was last updated from Los Angeles County Superior Courts on 02/06/2020 at 10:20:41 (UTC).

JOHN RF DOE ET AL VS DEFENDANT DOE 1 ET AL

Case Summary

On 02/27/2018 JOHN RF DOE filed a Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury lawsuit against DEFENDANT DOE 1. This case was filed in Los Angeles County Superior Courts, Stanley Mosk Courthouse located in Los Angeles, California. The Judges overseeing this case are ELAINE LU and GREGORY W. ALARCON. The case status is Pending - Other Pending.

Case Details Parties Documents Dockets

 

Case Details

  • Case Number:

    ****5758

  • Filing Date:

    02/27/2018

  • Case Status:

    Pending - Other Pending

  • Case Type:

    Personal Injury - Other Personal Injury

  • County, State:

    Los Angeles, California

Judge Details

Presiding Judges

ELAINE LU

GREGORY W. ALARCON

 

Party Details

Plaintiffs and Petitioners

DOE JOHN R.F.

DOE JOHN R.R.

Defendants and Respondents

DEFENDENT DOE 1

DEFENDENT DOE 2

DEFENDENT DOE 5

DEFENDENT DOE 3

DEFENDENT DOE 4

DOES 6 TO 100

RODRIGUEZ CARLOS RENE

ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF LOS ANGELES

CONGREGATION OF THE MISSION WESTERN PROVIDENCE

Not Classified By Court

THE ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF SAN BERNARDINO

Attorney/Law Firm Details

Plaintiff and Petitioner Attorneys

DE MARCO ANTHONY M. ESQ.

DEMARCO ANTHONY MICHAEL

Defendant Attorneys

LEMANN WILFRID CUNNINGHAM

WAXLER ANDREW J.

POTTS LEE WILLIAM

Not Classified By Court Attorney

COLELLA DAVID PHILIP

 

Court Documents

Statement of the Case - STATEMENT OF THE CASE STATUS CONFERENCE STATEMENT

1/15/2020: Statement of the Case - STATEMENT OF THE CASE STATUS CONFERENCE STATEMENT

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (STATUS CONFERENCE POST ADR)

1/17/2020: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (STATUS CONFERENCE POST ADR)

Notice of Ruling

10/9/2019: Notice of Ruling

Answer - ANSWER DEFENDANT CONGREGATION OF THE MISSION WESTERN PROVINCE'S ANSWER TO UNVERIFIED FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT AND AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES THERETO

10/4/2019: Answer - ANSWER DEFENDANT CONGREGATION OF THE MISSION WESTERN PROVINCE'S ANSWER TO UNVERIFIED FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT AND AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES THERETO

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (STATUS CONFERENCE)

9/27/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (STATUS CONFERENCE)

Case Management Statement

9/20/2019: Case Management Statement

Case Management Statement

9/23/2019: Case Management Statement

Case Management Statement

9/19/2019: Case Management Statement

Answer - ANSWER TO FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT BY THE ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF LOS ANGELES, A CORPORATION SOLE

9/19/2019: Answer - ANSWER TO FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT BY THE ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOP OF LOS ANGELES, A CORPORATION SOLE

Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore

8/16/2019: Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (NUNC PRO TUNC ORDER)

8/16/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (NUNC PRO TUNC ORDER)

Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (NUNC PRO TUNC ORDER) OF 08/16/2019

8/16/2019: Certificate of Mailing for - CERTIFICATE OF MAILING FOR (NUNC PRO TUNC ORDER) OF 08/16/2019

Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON DEMURRER - WITH MOTION TO STRIKE (CCP 430.10))

8/16/2019: Minute Order - MINUTE ORDER (HEARING ON DEMURRER - WITH MOTION TO STRIKE (CCP 430.10))

Notice of Ruling

8/19/2019: Notice of Ruling

Notice of Ruling

8/21/2019: Notice of Ruling

Proof of Personal Service

8/22/2019: Proof of Personal Service

Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore

7/18/2019: Order Appointing Court Approved Reporter as Official Reporter Pro Tempore

Opposition - OPPOSITION OPPOSITION TO DEMURRER

7/5/2019: Opposition - OPPOSITION OPPOSITION TO DEMURRER

68 More Documents Available

 

Docket Entries

  • 10/06/2020
  • Hearing10/06/2020 at 09:30 AM in Department 40 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Jury Trial

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/24/2020
  • Hearing09/24/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 40 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Final Status Conference

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 07/06/2020
  • Hearing07/06/2020 at 08:30 AM in Department 40 at 111 North Hill Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012; Status Conference

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 01/17/2020
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 40; Status Conference (Post ADR) - Held - Continued

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 01/17/2020
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Status Conference Post ADR)); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 01/15/2020
  • DocketStatement of the Case (STATUS CONFERENCE STATEMENT); Filed by John R.F. Doe (Plaintiff); John R.R. Doe (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 10/09/2019
  • DocketNotice of Ruling; Filed by John R.F. Doe (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 10/04/2019
  • DocketAnswer (DEFENDANT CONGREGATION OF THE MISSION WESTERN PROVINCE'S ANSWER TO UNVERIFIED FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT AND AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES THERETO); Filed by Congregation of the Mission Western Providence (Defendant)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/27/2019
  • Docketat 08:30 AM in Department 40; Status Conference - Held

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 09/27/2019
  • DocketMinute Order ( (Status Conference)); Filed by Clerk

    Read MoreRead Less
103 More Docket Entries
  • 04/20/2018
  • DocketMotion for an Order; Filed by John R.F. Doe (Plaintiff); John R.R. Doe (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/20/2018
  • DocketCERTIFICATE OF MERIT

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/20/2018
  • DocketMiscellaneous-Other; Filed by John R.F. Doe (Plaintiff); John R.R. Doe (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/20/2018
  • DocketCertificate of Merit; Filed by John R.F. Doe (Plaintiff); John R.R. Doe (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/20/2018
  • DocketCertificate of Merit; Filed by John R.F. Doe (Plaintiff); John R.R. Doe (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/20/2018
  • DocketCertificate of Merit; Filed by John R.F. Doe (Plaintiff); John R.R. Doe (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 04/20/2018
  • DocketCertificate of Merit; Filed by John R.F. Doe (Plaintiff); John R.R. Doe (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 02/27/2018
  • DocketCOMPLAINT FOR DAMAGES 1. CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE 2. NEGLIGENCE

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 02/27/2018
  • DocketComplaint; Filed by John R.F. Doe (Plaintiff); John R.R. Doe (Plaintiff)

    Read MoreRead Less
  • 02/27/2018
  • DocketSUMMONS

    Read MoreRead Less

Tentative Rulings

Case Number: BC695758    Hearing Date: January 21, 2021    Dept: 40

MOVING PARTY: Defendant the Roman Catholic Bishop of San Bernardino, a corporation sole

OPPOSITION: Plaintiffs John RF Doe and John RR Doe

On October 25, 2018, Plaintiffs filed a first amended complaint (“FAC”) against RCBSB alleging causes of action for:

1) Child Sexual Abuse;

2) Negligence.

Plaintiffs concede the First cause of action and the RCBSB brings this opposed motion for summary judgment or in the alternative summary adjudication.

Objections: Plaintiffs object to paragraph 10 of the declaration of David P. Colella. Paragraph 10 references defendant’s Exhibit 9 which is a transcript of the deposition of Father Partida. In the transcript Father Partida discusses priests demonstrating they were in good standing by showing a document called a celebrant. In UMF No. 18, RCBSB states that “it is possible that Rodriguez presented a celebrant.”

The Court will SUSTAIN the objection as Partida because he does not state that he remembers Rodriguez providing a celebrant.

RCBSB’s objections to Plaintiffs’ response to their separate statement are OVERRULED. RCBSB’s four objections to the declaration of Silvia Trujillo are OVERRULED as to 1-3 and SUSTAINED as to 4.

Analysis: In 1986, Rodriguez was ordained as a priest within the Congregation of the Mission Western Province, California and Congregation of the Mission Western Province. (“Congregation”) (UMF No. 1.)

In July 1987, the Congregation became aware of an allegation that Rodriguez had molested an underage boy. (UMF No. 2.) After Rodriguez completed counselling the Congregation assigned him ministerial work but forbade him from working with minors. (UMF No. 3.)

In July 1988, Rodriguez began working for the Archdiocese’s Office of Family Life. (UMF No. 4.) The Congregation advised the Archdiocese about Rodriguez’s conduct. (UMF No. 5.)

In June 1990, Rodriguez’s employment with the Archdiocese ended. (UMF No. 7.) The Congregation then assigned Rodriguez to St Mary’s Seminary in Santa Barbara. (UMF No. 8.)

In February 1993, Rodriguez was granted a leave of absence when more molestation allegations were made against him. (UMF No. 9.) Rodriguez was ordered not to visit any families in the parish, and he moved in with his parents. (UMF Nos. 10, 11.)

In April 1993, Rodriguez’s faculties – the permissions needed by a priest to use his powers as a priest – were terminated. (UMF No. 12.) Rodriguez never obtained formal faculties to perform priestly services with the RCBSB. (UMF No. 13.) However, from May to November 1993, he performed baptisms and weddings at Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in Riverside (“OLG”), a parish within the RCBSB. Additionally, Rodriguez performed at least one mass and possibly up to five masses. (UMF No. 15.)

On November 4, 1993, the Congregation informed the Archdiocese that it learned Rodriguez was helping at a parish in Orange County and informed the Roman Catholic Bishop of Orange that Rodriguez had no faculties to celebrate sacraments. (UMF No. 21.)

The Congregation later learned that Rodriguez was helping at OLG and on December 3, 1993, they informed RCBSB that Rodriguez’s faculties were suspended. (UMF No. 23.)

On December 3, 1993, RCBSB contacted Rodriguez to inform him that he could no longer celebrate mass as he had no faculties within the RCBSB. (UMF No. 25.)

On December 8, 1993, RCBSB wrote to Rodriguez to reiterate that he had no faculties within its diocese and that the Congregation had suspended his priestly faculties. The parties dispute whether Rodriguez made any other appearances at OLG, with Plaintiffs stating that he attended the baptism of Plaintiff’s sister in the summer of 1994.

Plaintiffs’ parents were active in “Marriage Encounter,” a marriage counselling program. (UMF No. 29.) Rodriguez was invited into Plaintiffs’ homes many times including the baptism of Plaintiff’s sister in May 1994. (UMF No. 30.) Plaintiffs estimated that Rodriguez visited over 100 times. (UMF No. 31.) Rodriguez spent the night at Plaintiffs’ home on a few occasions. Plaintiff RF Doe’s abuse is alleged to have occurred over a period of two to three years at Plaintiffs’ home and inside Rodriguez’s car. (UMF No. 35.) RF Doe estimates it was “six months to a year” after he met Rodriguez that the first incident of abuse occurred. (UMF No. 36.) Plaintiff RR Doe was approximately ten years old (in 1995) when he alleges Rodriguez molested him during tent sleepovers at his home. (UMF Nos. 37, 38.)

Second Cause of Action-Negligence: DENIED

RCBSB argues that it did not have a special relationship with or owed a duty to Plaintiffs. Generally, there is no duty to warn unless there exists a special relationship between the parties. Conti v. Watchtower Bible & Tract Society (2015) 235 Cal.App.4th 1214, 1227. The priest-parishioner relationship is not a special relationship. Roman Catholic Bishop v. Superior Court (1996) 42 Cal.App.4th 1556, 1568.

RCBSB cites to Conti in which a religious organization was aware that a ministerial servant, a member who did administrative work for the organization, had molested his stepdaughter. (Conti, supra, 235 Cal.App.4th at p. 1218.) Conti involved Jehovah’s Witness Elders, their equivalent of priests, learning that a member had molested his stepdaughter. (Id. at p. 1218.) The Elders did not inform their congregation’s members about the accusation and the member molested a minor from the congregation. The Court of Appeal spent part of its opinion discussing the penitential privilege, even though it did not directly apply based on the facts of the case, in analyzing the issue of duty (Id. at pp. 1229-1230) and found that “the public policy supporting of penitential communications that underlies the privilege and reporting statutes militates strongly against imposition of the duty claimed here to inform congregations of such communications.” (Id. at p. 1230.) The Court of Appeal also found that “ the church [did not] have a special relationship with Kendrick, for purposes of a duty to monitor his behavior toward children, by virtue of control over his conduct with them.” (Id. at p. 1231.)

RCBSB also cites Evan F. v. Hughson United Methodist Church (1992) 8 Cal.App.4th 828, 840-841 n. 2, which stated that a negligent misrepresentation claim, “requires a ‘positive assertion’ and does not apply to implied misrepresentations.” RCBSB states that it did not make any representation about Rodriguez’s status or fitness to be a priest.

Finally, RCBSB argues that it is not liable for Rodriguez’s actions, which occurred at Plaintiffs’ homes or in Rodriguez’s car. RCBSB cites to the Second Restatement of Torts which states that a master only has a duty to exercise reasonable control of a servant who is “upon the premises in possession of the master or upon which the servant is privileged to enter only as his servant.” (Rest. 2d Torts §317(a)(i).) RCBSB also cites to Roman Catholic Bishop, supra, 42 Cal.App.4th at 1567, which found that a church could not be held liable for negligent supervision where “nearly all of the contact [victim] had with [priest] occurred when [priest] took [victim] from her home to various public places and hotels.”

Plaintiffs argue that in a negligent hiring/retention claim “the focus is on [employer’s] actions in hiring/retaining [the employee], i.e., the risk of molestation that [the employer] allegedly knowingly created. Accordingly, we are not persuaded that proximate cause was improperly pled due to a failure to allege that the party was a church sponsored event.” J.W. v. Watchtower Bible &Tract Society of New York (2018) 29 Cal.App.5th 1142, 1164-1165.) Thus, for Plaintiffs’ negligent retention claim the important issue is not where the molestation took place, but the risk RCBSB created by hiring Rodriguez.

Plaintiffs argue that Restatement (Second) of Torts § 317 has not been applied in California to negligent hiring/retention claims. Alternatively, Plaintiffs state that Rodriguez had access to them because he was using the chattel of RCBSB, who knew of its ability and need to control the activities of its priests with children.

Section 317 states:

“A master is under a duty to exercise reasonable care so to control his servant while acting outside the scope of his employment as to prevent him from intentionally harming others or from so conducting himself as to create an unreasonable risk of bodily harm to them, if

(a) the servant

(i) is upon the premises in possession of the master or upon which the servant is privileged to enter only as his servant, or

(ii) is using a chattel of the master, and

(b) the master

(i) knows or has reason to know that he has the ability to control his servant, and

(ii) knows or should know of the necessity and opportunity for exercising such control.”

Restatement (Second) Of Torts § 317 (emphasis added).

Plaintiffs state that Rodriguez was dressed as a priest when he was in their home, i.e., he wore a collar (the chattel). Plaintiffs cite to the deposition of Father Gerardo Mendoza who testified that when a priest visits a parishioner’s home, they are still a representative of the church. (Pls.’ Ex. 58, 55:10-21.) Plaintiffs assert that RCBSB had policies for priests conduct with minors and knew about the issue of priests molesting minors. (Ex 75 RCB-SB55; Ex. 78.) Thus, Plaintiffs argue that Section 317’s requirements are met.

The Court finds that there is a triable issue of fact as to Plaintiffs’ negligent hiring/retention claim. There is sufficient evidence that RCBSB hired, through their pastors, Rodriguez to perform priestly services at OLG. Plaintiffs state that they first saw and heard Rodriguez when he was performing a mass at OLG, their home parish. Rodriguez performed at least 15 baptisms, three weddings, and up to five regular Sunday masses. (Ex. 50; Ex. 51, Ex. 52 p. 19:5-22; Ex. 53 p. 24:9-18.) RCBSB’s policy was to pay visiting priest’s for supply work performed at parishes. (Ex. 75, No. 48.) Presumably, Rodriguez was paid by RCBSB for the services he performed. RCBSB correctly notes that in Roman Catholic Bishop, the Court of Appeal considered the fact that all the contact the victim had with the priest occurred outside of church property in evaluating a negligent supervision claim. Similarly, a negligent supervision claim is untenable as the molestation did not occur on church property. The Court also disagrees with Plaintiffs’ assertion that a collar is a chattel as required by section 317. As far as the Court is aware there is no case finding that a priest’s collar is a chattel.

But in Roman Catholic Bishop, the Court of Appeal also considered a negligent hiring claim and focused on the fact that the priest did not have “a criminal history [and had not] been previously implicated in sexual abuse of a minor.” (supra, 42 Cal.App.4th at p. 1565.)

Unlike the priest in Roman Catholic Bishop, Rodriguez had a history of molestation allegations by the time he was performing priestly service at OLG. It appears that RCBSB conducted no investigation into Rodriguez’s status to perform priestly services for RCBSB. Even a cursory inquiry to the Archdiocese or the Congregation would have revealed that Rodriguez’s faculties were suspended in April 1993. There is a speculative discussion about Rodriguez perhaps providing RCBSB with a celebrant – a document from the diocese or the religious community saying that they are a priest in good standing – but apparently this document did not have to be up to date. (Pls.’ Ex. 9, 27:3-11.) This matter has some similarity to Evan in which the Methodist Church hired a pastor without an investigation who had a history of molestation allegations. (Evan F., supra, 8 Cal.App.4th at p. 831.) The evidence in Evan was that the pastor had molested minors in the past and had been suspended from the larger Methodist organization as a result. (Id. at p. 832.) A committee of the church “became aware of some difficulty with Murphy’s reappointment to the active ministry and understood he had been on a sabbatical of some kind…. Nevertheless, Hughson Church did not investigate or make any inquiry regarding Murphy's fitness to serve as pastor.” (Id. at p. 843.) The Court of Appeal stated that “Hughson Church had no actual knowledge of Murphy’s past. But the evidence recounted above presents triable issues of material fact regarding whether the Church had reason to believe Murphy was unfit or whether the Church failed to use reasonable care in investigating Murphy.” (Ibid.) Similarly, while RCBSB did not have actual knowledge of Rodriguez’s history they also did not investigate his fitness to perform priestly services in their parish.

This creates a triable issue of fact as to whether RCBSB failed to use reasonable care in investigating Rodriguez because employing him posed a risk to minors. It appears to this Court a straightforward conclusion that because of the unique duties of a priest—with or without the formal powers of “faculties”--there was a risk that Rodriguez would gain access into the homes of parishioners--giving him access to children.

Accordingly, the motion for summary adjudication of the Second cause of action is DENIED.

Conclusion: Defendant the Roman Catholic Bishop of San Bernardino’s Motion for Summary Adjudication is GRANTED as to the First Cause of Action.

Defendant the Roman Catholic Bishop of San Bernardino’s Motion for Summary Adjudication is DENIED as to the Second Cause of Action.

related-case-search

Dig Deeper

Get Deeper Insights on Court Cases


Latest cases where THE ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF SAN is a litigant

Latest cases where CONGREGATION OF THE MISSION WESTERN PROVINCE is a litigant

Latest cases represented by Lawyer David Philip Colella