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Doe v. Goff

August 19, 1999

JOHN DOE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ROBERT GOFF, BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA, AND RAINBOW COUNCIL, BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 13th Judicial Circuit La Salle County, Illinois No. 95--L--27 Honorable James A. Lanuti Judge Presiding

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Homer

IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS

The plaintiff filed a complaint against Robert Goff, the Boy Scouts of America (Boy Scouts), and the Rainbow Council Boy Scouts of America (Rainbow Council), after he was allegedly molested by Goff while at a Boy Scouts' camp. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the Boy Scouts and the Rainbow Council, and the plaintiff appealed. Following our careful review, we affirm.

FACTS

In 1987 and 1988, the plaintiff was a member of the Rainbow Council of the Boy Scouts in Joliet, Illinois. In January 1995, the plaintiff filed a complaint against the Rainbow Council, the Boy Scouts, and Robert Goff, a Boy Scout volunteer, for damages that he incurred as a result of an alleged molestation by Goff at a Boy Scouts camping trip in the summer of either 1987 or 1988. He contended that the Boy Scouts and Rainbow Council (the appellees) negligently failed to investigate the moral fitness of Goff, and allowed Goff to participate in scouting activities knowing that he was a pedophile who sexually abused some of the scouts. The plaintiff also alleged that the appellees failed to implement adequate child protection programs.

The appellees filed a motion for summary judgment alleging that they did not owe the plaintiff a duty because they did not voluntarily undertake to investigate any adult volunteers, and were unaware that Goff molested any boys until 1992. The trial court granted the appellees' motion for summary judgment. However, the court also granted the plaintiff leave to file an amended complaint so that he could add allegations regarding the appellees' failure to properly educate the plaintiff about abuse.

The plaintiff's amended complaint alleged that the appellees failed to implement adequate child protection and education programs, and failed to adequately warn the plaintiff about sexual abuse.

The appellees filed a motion for summary judgment on the amended complaint, alleging that they had no duty to implement additional child protection programs or otherwise educate or warn the plaintiff about abuse. The plaintiff argued that the appellees did owe him a duty because they (1) had a special relationship with the scouts so as to create the existence of a duty; and (2) voluntarily undertook to implement child protection programs.

The trial court granted the appellees' motion for summary judgment, again finding that the appellees did not owe a duty to the plaintiff. The plaintiff appeals this second order granting summary judgment in favor of the appellees.

ANALYSIS

A motion for summary judgment is a drastic remedy that should be granted only when the pleadings, depositions, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, show that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Gilbert v. Sycamore Municipal Hospital, 156 Ill. 2d 511, 517-518, 622 N.E.2d 788, 792 (1993). The standard of review of a trial court's decision on a motion for summary judgment is de novo. Andrews v. Cramer, 256 Ill. App. 3d 766, 769, 629 N.E.2d 133, 135 (1993).

The plaintiff argues that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment to the appellees, because he set forth facts sufficient to establish a prima facie case of negligence. In order to prevail in a negligence action, a plaintiff's complaint must set forth facts establishing the existence of a duty owed by defendant to plaintiff, a breach of that duty and an injury proximately caused by the breach. Auguste v. Montgomery Ward and Co., 257 Ill. App. 3d 865, 868, 629 N.E.2d 535, 537 (1993). The determination of a duty, or whether the plaintiff and defendant stood in such a relationship to one another that the law imposes an obligation of reasonable conduct upon the defendant for the benefit of the plaintiff, is a question of law. Estate of Johnson v. Condell Memorial Hospital, 119 Ill. 2d 496, 503, 520 N.E.2d 37, 40 (1988).

Generally, Illinois law does not impose a duty to protect another from a criminal attack by a third person. Hernandez v. Rapid Bus Co., 267 Ill. App. 3d 519, 524, 641 N.E.2d 886, 890 (1994). However, a duty to protect another can exist if the attack was reasonably foreseeable and the parties stand in one of the following "special relationships": (1) common carrier and passenger; (2) innkeeper and guest; (3) business invitor and invitee; and (4) voluntary custodian and protectee. Hernandez, 267 Ill. App. 3d at 524, 641 N.E.2d at 890.

The plaintiff contends that the appellees owed him a duty to prevent the molestation because they stood in a special relationship with him as his voluntary custodians. We find this argument unpersuasive because it ignores ...


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