Not Attempting to Prevent a Forseeable Harm Inspite of Knowing the Priest's Allaged Propensity for Pedophilic Behavior
In Hutchison v. Luddy, 560 Pa. 51, 742 A.2d 1052 (Pa. 1999) the plaintiff made claims against a number of defendants for the negligent retention and supervision of Father Luddy, a priest who allegedly sexually assaulted the minor plaintiff.
In the Opinion Announcing the Judgment of the Court, the Superior Court's decision and its application of only Section 317 to the claim was criticized. 742 A.2d at 1052.
Case law from this as well as other jurisdictions was initially reviewed.
Referenced were the holdings of these decisions which found a defendant potentially negligent if it was established that the employee's propensity for violence was known or should have been known to the defendant and the association between the plaintiff and the employee was occasioned by the employee's work. Id. at 1057-59.
The lead Opinion in Hutchinson concluded that the defendant knew that Luddy had a propensity for pedophilic behavior and knew that his placement provided him with ample opportunity to commit acts of abuse, thus the defendants had a duty to take precaution to prevent any such harm.
Because the defendants did not attempt to prevent the foreseeable harm, their inaction was negligent.
Justice Newman went on to examine these same claims under Section 317 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts and concluded the requirements of Section 317 were also met.