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Doe v. Corporation of The Catholic Bishop of Yakima

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

July 30, 2013

JOHN DOE, Plaintiff,
v.
CORPORATION OF THE CATHOLIC BISHOP OF YAKIMA, a nonprofit corporation; DIOCESE OF YAKIMA; and CATHOLIC CHURCH OF THE RESURRECTION, Defendants

For John Doe, Plaintiff: Bryan G Smith, LEAD ATTORNEY, Megan E Hale, Vito R de la Cruz, Tamaki Law Offices, Yakima, WA; Randall Lane Vogt, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Randall Vogt PC, Portland, OR.

For Corporation of the Catholic Bishop of Yakima, a Washington nonprofit corporation, Catholic Church of the Resurrection, Diocese of Yakima, Defendants: Theron A Buck, LEAD ATTORNEY, Stafford Frey Cooper, Seattle, WA; Thomas D Frey, Frey Buck PS, Seattle, WA.

OPINION

Page 1226

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

EDWARD F. SHEA, Senior United States District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

A hearing was held in the above-captioned matter on June 19, 2013. Plaintiff John Doe was represented by Bryan G. Smith and Vito R. de la Cruz; Defendants Corporation of the Catholic Bishop of Yakima, Diocese of Yakima, and Catholic Church of the Resurrection (collectively, " Defendants" ) were represented by Thomas D. Frey. Before the Court was Defendants' Motion for Summary Judgment, ECF No. 21, in which Defendants seek summary judgment on all of Plaintiff's claims. Following the hearing, the Court took the summary judgment motion under advisement pending in camera review of an email subject to a contemporaneous discovery dispute between the parties. See Plf.'s Mot. to Compel, ECF No. 33. On July 15, 2013, the Court granted in part Plaintiff's motion to compel and ordered Defendants to disclose the disputed

Page 1227

email to Plaintiff. ECF No. 61. On July 24, 2013, the Court summarily denied Defendants' motion for summary judgment, indicating that a written order would follow. ECF No. 65. This Order memorializes and supplements the Court's prior ruling.[1]

II. BACKGROUND[2]

In August 1998, Aaron Ramirez Lopez (" Ramirez" ) came from Mexico to the Yakima Diocese as a seminarian. He had previously been a member of two different religious orders in Mexico, and he had previously studied at a seminary there. On March 1, 1999, about seven months after arriving in Yakima, Ramirez asked to become a deacon candidate, and Yakima Bishop Carlos Sevilla granted his request. On May 29, 1999, Sevilla ordained Ramirez as a transitional deacon.

Reverend Bill Shaw, the pastor of the Resurrection Parish in Zillah, was responsible for supervising Ramirez's ministry activities. Through his ministry in the Parish, Ramirez met Plaintiff, a then-seventeen-year-old male parishioner. Ramirez spent time with Plaintiff outside of church and visited his home. On several occasions, Ramirez hosted underage drinking parties at a trailer on church property, a trailer which served as the rectory for the Parish and which Plaintiff understood to be Reverend Shaw's home. During these parties -- at which no adults other than Ramirez were present -- Ramirez supplied the underage youths with alcohol and socialized with them. Plaintiff attended several of these parties.

On July 29, 2009, Ramirez invited Plaintiff over to the rectory to drink alcohol. After others left and they were alone, Plaintiff tried to leave several times throughout the evening, but Ramirez repeatedly dissuaded him from going. Plaintiff continued to drink beer and alcohol. At some point later in the evening, he drank what he believed to be a glass of wine that Ramirez had given him. At that point, Plaintiff apparently lost consciousness; he cannot recall what happened next. He eventually regained consciousness, but could not move or resist physical advances from Ramirez. Over the course of the evening, Ramirez repeatedly raped and sexually assaulted Plaintiff. When Plaintiff finally regained his faculties, he discovered Ramirez was asleep, so he fled from the rectory and later called the police.

The next day, the Zillah Police Department investigated the rape and contacted Bishop Sevilla about Ramirez. Sevilla promptly called Ramirez, who had travelled to Wenatchee. Ramirez admitted to Sevilla that he molested Plaintiff. Sevilla informed Ramirez that he would send another priest, Father Metha, to Wenatchee the next day to collect Ramirez and take him to Zillah authorities. When Father Metha arrived the next day, he found that Ramirez had fled to Mexico.

Over the next several years, Sevilla maintained contact with Ramirez in Mexico. Sevilla never encouraged Ramirez to turn himself in; instead, he repeatedly encouraged Ramirez to find other work in the ministry. He provided Ramirez with

Page 1228

financial assistance for counseling and travel, but he never asked where Ramirez was seeking work, and he never tried to contact any religious orders in Mexico to advise them of the risk Ramirez posed. Sevilla later admitted that he did not want Ramirez to be arrested.

On July 8, 2011, Plaintiff filed this suit against Defendants, in which he asserts claims of negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress (" NIED" ), and outrage. On December 10, 2012, Defendants filed the instant motion for summary judgment, seeking dismissal of all claims. ECF No. 21. Plaintiff opposes the motion. ECF No. 27.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

Summary judgment is appropriate if the " pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). Once a party has moved for summary judgment, the opposing party must point to specific facts establishing that there is a genuine issue for trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 324, 106 S.Ct. 2548, 91 L.Ed.2d 265 (1986). If the nonmoving party fails to make such a showing for any of the elements essential to its case for which it bears the burden of proof, the trial court should grant the summary judgment motion. Id. at 322. " When the moving party has carried its burden of [showing that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law], its opponent must do more than show that there is some metaphysical doubt as to material facts. In the language of [Rule 56], the nonmoving party must come forward with 'specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'" Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87, 106 S.Ct. 1348, 89 L.Ed.2d 538 (1986) (internal citation omitted) (emphasis in original).

When considering a motion for summary judgment, the Court does not weigh the evidence or assess credibility; instead, " the evidence of the non-movant is to be believed, and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in his favor." Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, ...


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