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Horn v. Goodman

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District

August 24, 2016

MICHAEL HORN, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
NORMAN GOODMAN, HOLY FAMILY CATHOLIC CHURCH, and THE CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF PEORIA, a Religious Corporation, Defendants, Holy Family Catholic Church and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria, Defendants-Appellees.

         Decision Under Appeal from the Circuit Court of Peoria County, No. 12-L-231; the Hon. Richard McCoy and the Hon. Katherine Gorman, Judges, Review presiding.

          Counsel on Timothy J. Freiberg (argued), of Law Offices of Frederic W. Nessler & Associates, of Springfield, for appellant.

          Craig L. Unrath (argued), Timothy L. Bertschy, and Brad W. Keller, all of Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen, of Peoria, for appellees.

          Panel PRESIDING JUSTICE O'BRIEN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justice Carter concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Wright specially concurred, with opinion.

          OPINION

          O'BRIEN, PRESIDING JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Plaintiff Michael Horn brought a personal injury action against defendants Reverend Norman Goodman, Holy Family Catholic Church, and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria, alleging that he was sexually abused as a minor by Goodman, who served as his parish priest in the 1990s. The trial court granted the defendants' motion to dismiss, finding that Horn's claims were time-barred by the statute of limitations and that he failed to allege facts sufficient to invoke the discovery rule. Horn appealed. We reverse and remand.

         ¶ 2 FACTS

         ¶ 3 On July 30, 2012, plaintiff Michael Horn filed a multicount complaint against defendants Reverend Norman Goodman, Holy Family Catholic Church, and the Catholic Diocese of Peoria. The complaint alleged assault and battery, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress (counts I through III) against Goodman and negligent hiring, negligent retention/supervision, and negligent entrustment/breach of fiduciary duty/respondeat superior (counts IV through VI) against Holy Family and against the Diocese (counts VII through IX).

         ¶ 4 The complaint alleged that Goodman engaged in sexual conduct with Horn, who was born November 26, 1978, between 1991 and 1994, when he was between 13 and 15 years old. Horn further alleged that the abuse caused him injuries including confusion and to develop the symptoms of psychological disorders, such as shame, guilt, self-blame, depression, repressed memory, suppressed memory, and disassociation. Horn also alleged that the psychological conditions occurred before he turned 18 and caused him to not remember the abuse or recognize or recall the connection between his psychological issues and Goodman's abuse.

         ¶ 5 Holy Family and the Peoria Diocese (collectively the Diocese) and Goodman filed section 2-619.1 motions to dismiss (735 ILCS 5/2-619.1 (West 2012)). Goodman and the Diocese argued that Horn failed to allege facts sufficient to support his claims and that his claims were time-barred under the two-year statute of limitations in the 1994 version of the childhood sexual abuse provision of the Code of Civil Procedure (hereafter referred to as the sexual abuse statute) (735 ILCS 5/13-202.2 (West 1994)). The trial court granted the motions to dismiss without prejudice, finding the claims were time-barred and that Horn did not allege facts sufficient to invoke the discovery rule or to support his argument that the limitations period was tolled as a result of fraudulent concealment or equitable estoppel.

         ¶ 6 Horn filed an amended complaint that mirrored the original complaint but added new allegations of repressed and suppressed memory, fraudulent concealment, and equitable estoppel. The additional allegations included that Horn suppressed and repressed memories of the abuse before he turned 18 in 1998 and until 2011, during which time Horn was unable to recognize the sexual abuse was wrong or harmful or that he had been injured as a result of the abuse, "due to the fact that he had blocked it out of his memory and had repressed and suppressed any memory of the abuse taking place, " and that he only recognized his injuries when the memories returned in 2011. The amended complaint also added an allegation that Goodman and the Diocese were aware of the abuse and remained silent about it; that Goodman threatened that there would be adverse consequences were Horn to tell anyone about the abuse; and that the Diocese, by its silence, attempted to convince Horn that the sexual abuse was normal and not wrong, harmful, or injurious.

         ¶ 7 At the time the amended complaint was filed, Goodman had died, and his estate was substituted and then voluntarily dismissed. The Diocese again filed a section 2-619.1 motion to dismiss, which the trial court granted with prejudice. The court found Horn's allegations did not meet the specific pleading requirements to invoke the discovery rule as set forth in Softcheck v. Imesch, 367 Ill.App.3d 148 (2006), and Clay v. Kuhl, 189 Ill.2d 603 (2000), and that the complaint did not allege facts sufficient to establish either fraudulent concealment or equitable estoppel. Horn appealed.

         ¶ 8 ANALYSIS

         ¶ 9 On appeal, we must determine whether the trial court erred when it granted the Diocese's motion to dismiss. Horn submits that dismissal was improper, arguing the trial court erred in holding that the 2003 amendment to the sexual abuse statute (Pub. Act 93-356, § 15 (eff. July 24, 2003) (amending 735 ILCS 5/13-202.2)) did not apply retroactively and preserve his claim, that the limitations period was not tolled through fraudulent concealment or ...


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