Doe v. St. John's Episcopal Parish Day School, Inc. et al
ORDER granting in part and denying in part 5 motion to dismiss; granting in part and denying in part 6 motion to dismiss; granting in part and denying in part 8 motion to dismiss. Signed by Judge James D. Whittemore on 2/11/2014. (KE)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
Case No: 8:13-cv-2467-T-27EAJ
ST. JOHN'S EPISCOPAL PARISH DAY
SCHOOL, INC., ST. JOHN'S CHURCH,
EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF
SOUTHWEST FLORIDA, INC., JON
CARIDAD and JAMES BIGGERS,
BEFORE THE COURT are three motions to dismiss the Complaint: (1) Defendant, Jon
Caridad's, Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs Complaint (Dkt. 5); (2) Defendant, Episcopal Diocese of
Southwest Florida, Inc.'s, Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs Complaint (Dkt. 8); and (3) Defendants St.
John's Episcopal Parish Day School, Inc.'s and St. John's Church's Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 6).
Plaintiff has responded to each in opposition (Dkts. 7, 11, 15). Upon consideration, the Motions
(Dkts. 5, 6, 8) are GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.
Plaintiff alleges that he was sexually and physically abused by Defendants Jon Caridad and
James Biggers at various times between 1971 and 1975 (Dkt. 1 at ifif 25, 30). During that time,
Caridad was a priest at St. John's Church (the "Church") and a teacher at St. John's Episcopal Parish
Day School (the "School"), which was operated by the Church (id at
if 3). 1
Biggers was also
employed by the Church and the School, serving as Choir Master at the Church and a teacher at the
School (id at if 6). Both the Church and the School were allegedly organizations of Defendant
Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida, Inc. (the "Diocese"), a religious entity, which allegedly
maintained operational authority and control over its churches, congregations, and schools (id. at iii!
10-12). 2 The abuse is alleged to have occurred while Plaintiff was a congregant of the Church and
a student at the School (id at iii! 19, 20). Plaintiff also alleges that his memory of the abuse was
"extinguished because of the trauma and the resulting traumatic amnesia or repressed memory
syndrome," and Plaintiff therefore had no memory of the abuse until it resurfaced in 2011 (id at if
Counts I and II of the Complaint assert claims of battery, abuse, and sexual battery against
Caridad and Biggers. Counts III through VI are claims for vicarious liability under a theory of
respondeat superior (Count III), negligent supervision and retention (Count IV), negligence (Count
V), and breach of fiduciary duty (Count VI) brought against the Church, the School, and the Diocese.
Caridad, the Church, the School, and the Diocese move to dismiss the Complaint pursuant
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim on which relief may be
granted. All four argue that the claims are barred by the statute oflimitations. Plaintiff contends that
based on the delayed discovery doctrine, the cause of action did not accrue for statutes oflimitations
purposes until Plaintiff recalled the alleged abuse. In addition, the Church, the School, and the
Diocese argue that the Complaint suffers from other deficiencies warranting dismissal for failure to
More particularly, the Church and the School are alleged to have been the same entity until 2000, when the
Defendant corporate entity, St. John's Episcopal Parish Day School, Inc., was formed (Dkt. 1 at~ 3).
The Church, the School, and the Diocese are hereinafter collectively referred to as "the Church Defendants."
state a claim. Caridad argues that the claims are barred by the First Amendment and that Plaintiff
may not bring this lawsuit anonymously.
A complaint should contain "a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief." Fed. R. Civ. P. 8(a)(2). This Rule does not require detailed factual
allegations, but it demands more than an unadorned, conclusory accusation of harm. Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). The complaint must "plead all facts establishing an entitlement to
reliefwith more than 'labels and conclusions' or a 'formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause
of action."' Resnickv. AvMed, Inc., 693 F.3d 1317, 1324 (11th Cir. 2012)(quoting Bell At/. Corp.
v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)). "The complaint must contain enough facts to make a claim
for relief plausible on its face." Resnick, 693 F .3d at 1324-25. "A claim has facial plausibility when
the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the
defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S.
at 556). This plausibility standard "asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted
unlawfully." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678 (citing Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556).
Although it is axiomatic that the Court must accept as true all of the allegations contained
in the complaint, this tenet is "inapplicable to legal conclusions." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. "While
legal conclusions can provide the framework of a complaint, they must be supported by factual
allegations." Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. All reasonable inferences must be drawn in the plaintiff's
favor. St. George v. Pinellas Cnty., 285 F.3d 1334, 1337 (11th Cir. 2002).
Dismissal under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) "on statute oflimitations grounds
is appropriate only if it is apparent from the face of the complaint that the claim is time-barred."
Tello v. Dean Witter Reynolds, Inc., 410 F.3d 1275, 1288 (11th Cir. 2005) (quoting La Grasta v.
First Union Secs., Inc., 358 F.3d 840, 845 (11th Cir. 2004)).
Statute of Limitations
Plaintiff filed this action on September 24, 2013 alleging that he was sexually abused by
Defendants Caridad and Biggers while they were employed by the School and/or the Church and
while Plaintiff was a student, congregant, and altar boy, but that he "had no memory of any act of
abuse he suffered until 2011." (Dkt. 1 at,, 9-39). According to the allegations in the Complaint,
"[t]he events giving rise to this complaint occurred between 1971-75," nearly four decades ago. (Id.
at, 9). As such, Defendants contend that the statute of limitations applicable to the claims against
the Church, School, and Diocese have long expired. 3 Plaintiff asserts that the delayed discovery
doctrine, as adopted by the Florida Supreme Court in Hearndon v. Graham, 767 So. 2d 1179 (Fla.
2000), operates to save his claims.
Defendants recognize that the delayed discovery doctrine saves Plaintiffs intentional tort
claims (battery, abuse, and sexual abuse) against Caridad and Biggers. However, they contend that
the Florida Supreme Court limited its holding in Hearndon to intentional tort claims against the
perpetrator of the abuse and therefore, the doctrine is not applicable to Plaintiffs non-intentional tort
claims against the Church Defendants (Counts 111-VI).4 This proposition is supported by the Third
District Court of Appeal's decision in Cisko v. Diocese ofSteubenville, 123 So. 3d 83 (Fla. 3d DCA
3 Defendant Caridad argues that the entire Complaint should be dismissed as untimely.
His additional arguments
will be further addressed separately.
4 In general, the statute oflimitations for Plaintiff's claims against the Church Defendants is four years. See Fla.
Stat. § 95. l 1(3)(a) (negligence claims), § 95. l 1(3)(p) ("catch-all" provision).
2013). Plaintiff asserts that the Third District wrongly decided the issue and this Court is not
obligated to follow it. Plaintiff also argues that his claim for Vicarious Liability/Respondeat
Superior (Count 111) is a claim based on the intentional torts of Caridad and Biggers and thus, the
delayed discovery doctrine applies to its accrual.
Hearndon v. Graham
"The 'delayed discovery' doctrine generally provides that a cause of action does not accrue
until the plaintiff either knows or reasonably should know of the tortious act giving rise to the cause
of action." Hearndon v. Graham, 767 So. 2d at 1184. In Hearndon, the plaintiff sued her stepfather
for injuries allegedly caused by the sexual abuse committed by her stepfather beginning in 196.8 and
continuing until 1975. Id. at 1181. The complaint was not filed until 1991 because she allegedly
suffered from ''traumatic amnesia" or a related syndrome until 1988. Id. The trial court dismissed
the complaint as barred by the four-year statute of limitations applicable to civil actions for injury
or damages caused by an intentional tort. Id. The First District Court of Appeal held that the statute
of limitations was not tolled based on the delayed discovery doctrine, but certified the question in
the case to the Florida Supreme Court. Id at 1181-82.
The Supreme Court determined the delayed discovery doctrine operates to delay the accrual
of a cause of action, as opposed to tolling the statute of limitations, and held that the delayed
discovery doctrine applies to childhood sexual abuse cases accompanied by traumatic amnesia. Id.
at 1181-82, 1186. The court reasoned that such an application is fair, given the nature of the alleged
tortious conduct, its effect on victims, and the general application of the doctrine to tort cases. Id.
The court did rely on Florida Statute section 95 .11 (7), since the plaintiffs action was based on abuse
that occurred from 1968 to 1975, preceding the effective date of that statute. 5 Id. at 1186.
Cisko v. Diocese of Steubenville
In Cisko, the Third District Court of Appeal concluded that the delayed discovery doctrine
as applied in Hearndon is a narrow exception and limited to intentional torts. 123 So. 3d at 84. The
plaintiffs in Cisko sued the Diocese of Steubenville for negligence related to physical and sexual
abuse allegedly suffered between 1966 and 1967, but not recalled until 2005 because of traumatic
amnesia. Id. The trial court found that the plaintiffs' negligence claim was barred by the four-year
statute of limitations after concluding that the delayed discovery doctrine, as applied in Hearndon,
did not apply to the negligence action. Id. The Third District agreed, reasoning that the court in
Hearndon limited its holding "to the specific cause of action: a suit for intentional tort against the
perpetrator." Id. The court found support in a plain reading of Hearndon, as well as the Supreme
Court's discussion in Davis v. Monahan, 832 So. 2d 708 (Fla. 2002), 6 and the absence of any
statutory endorsement to extend the statute of limitation in sexual abuse cases to causes of actions
other than intentional torts. Id. at 84-85.
Application of Hearndon and Cisko
As this is a diversity case, in the absence of a controlling decision from the Florida Supreme
Court, this Court must follow decisions from the Florida intermediate appellate courts unless there
Section 95.11(7) provides that:
FOR INTENTIONAL TORTS BASED ON ABUSE.-An action founded on alleged abuse, as
defined ins. 39.01, s. 415.102, ors. 984.03, or incest, as defined ins. 826.04, may be commenced at
any time within 7 years after the age of majority, or within 4 years after the injured person leaves the
dependency of the abuser, or within 4 years from the time of discovery by the injured party of both
the injury and the causal relationship between the injury and the abuse, whichever occurs later.
Fla. Stat. § 95 .11 (7).
6 Davis involved a suit by an elderly mother suing her children to recover stolen money. 832 So. 2d at 708-09.
The Fourth District extended the delayed discovery doctrine to the facts of Davis, finding that it is not limited to the facts
of Hearndon. Id The Supreme Court reversed and held that the delayed discovery doctrine did not apply and stated
that "Hearndon is limited to the specific facts in that case." Id at 712.
is some persuasive indication that the Supreme Court would decide the case differently. Raie v.
Cheminova, Inc., 336 F.3d 1278, 1280 (11th Cir. 2003); United Techs. Corp. v. Mazer, 556 F.3d
1260, 1274 (11th Cir. 2009) (citations and quotation omitted) ("Absent some indication that the
Florida Supreme Court would hold otherwise, federat"~ourt~ are bound to adhere to the decisions of
Florida,s intermediate courts.,,). Indeed, the Florida Supreme Court has held that "[t]he decisions
of the district courts of appeal represent the law of Florida unless and until they are overruled by [the
Florida Supreme Court].,, Pardo v. State, 596 So. 2d 665, 666 (Fla. 1992) (quotingStanfil/v. State,
384 So. 2d 141, 143 (Fla.1980)); see also McMahan v. Toto, 311F.3d1077, 1080 (11th Cir. 2002).
If there are no state decisions on point, this Court "may make an educated guess as to what the
Florida courts would decide if this case were presented to them.,, Smigiel v. Aetna Cas. and Sur.
Co., 785 F.2d 922, 925 (11th Cir.1986) (citation omitted).
The Florida Supreme Court has not spoken on the precise issue of whether the delayed
discovery doctrine applies to non-intentional tort claims for, childhood sexual abuse brought against
non-perpetrator tortfeasors. It has, however, expressly stated that "Hearndon is limited to the
specific facts in that case.,, Davis, 832 So. 2d at 712. The Supreme Court also explained that "in
the narrow circumstance of lack of memory in childhood sexual abuse cases, the doctrine was
appropriate because the lack of memory was caused by the abuser-a situation similar to the statutory
circumstances to which the doctrine applies.,, Id at 710. The Third District Court of Appeal has
held that the doctrine does not apply to non-intentional tort claims. Cisko, 123 So. 3d at 84.
Plaintiff brings claims against the Church, the School, and the Diocese for respondeat
superior, negligent supervision and retention, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty. Absent some
persuasive indication that the Florida Supreme Court would decide the case differently, the holding
in Cisko likewise precludes Plaintiffs negligent supervision and retention, negligence, and breach
of fiduciary duty claims. 7
Moreover, the Eleventh Circuit has also recognized that "Hearndon 's expansion of the
statutory delayed discovery doctrine is as narrow as can be." Raie, 336 F.3d at 1281-82 (concluding
that Hearndon was an exceedingly narrow decision that does not justify similar extensions of the
delayed discovery rule to instances beyond those for which the Florida Legislature provided by
Accordingly, Cisko will be followed as Florida substantive law and Plaintiff's negligent
supervision and retention, negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty claims are barred by the statute
of limitations as a matter of law.
Count 111--Respondeat SuperiorNicarious Liability
Plaintiff seeks to hold all of the Church Defendants vicariously liable for the acts of Caridad
and Biggers under the doctrine of respondeat superior. Defendants first contend that this claim is
likewise barred by the statute of limitations, as discussed, and summarily classify the claim as one
grounded in negligence. Second, they assert that as a matter of law, the acts of Caridad and Biggers
fall outside the course and scope of their employment and ~id not further the purpose or interest of
the Church Defendants. Plaintiff responds that the claim is based on the intentional torts of Caridad
and Biggers, and therefore not time-barred by operation ofthe delayed discovery doctrine, regardless
of whether this Court follows Cisko. Second, he argues that whether Caridad' s and Bigger' s conduct
falls outside the course and scope of their employment and was in furtherance of the interests of the
Church Defendants are questions of fact not yet ripe for review.
The application of the doctrine to Plaintiff's respondeat superior claim is discussed infra.
Under the doctrine of respondeat superior, an employer can be vicariously liable for the acts
of its employees performed within the course of their agency or employment. Dieas v. Assoc. Loan
Co., 99 So. 2d 279, 281 (Fla. 1957). Unlike a cause of action for negligent hiring or retention which
is grounded on the negligence ofthe employer, the negligence ofthe employer is irrelevant to a cause
of action based on respondeat superior. See Island City Flying Serv. v. Gen. Elec. Credit Corp., 585
So. 2d 274, 278 (Fla. 1991) (citing Mallory v. O'Neil, 69 So. 2d 313, 315 (Fla. 1954)). Under the
theory ofrespondeat superior, the employer is not liable ifthe employee is not liable. Mallory, 69
So. 2d at 315; Bankers Multiple Line Ins. Co. v. Farish, 464 So. 2d 530, 532 (Fla.1985) (''when a
principal's liability rests solely on the doctrine of respondeat superior, a principal cannot be held
liable ifthe agent is exonerated."). It follows that Plaintiffs claim against the Church Defendants
alleging that they are vicariously liable for the acts of Caridad and Biggers is based on the intentional
torts, allegedly committed by them, not on the negligence of the Church Defendants. Accordingly,
this claim is grounded in intentional tort to which the delayed discovery doctrine applies under
Hearndon and Cisko, and is not time-barred.
Admittedly, the application of the delayed discovery doctrine to this claim is distinguishable
from Hearndon and Cisko in that it is not a claim directly against the perpetrator. However, because
the liability of the Church Defendants would be vicarious and based solely on the alleged acts of the
abusers/perpetrators, it necessarily falls within the narrow application of the delayed discovery
doctrine of Hearndon. See Arthur v. Unicare Health Facilities, Inc., 602 So. 2d 596 (Fla. 2d DCA
1992) (medical malpractice statute oflimitations applies to causes of action against an employer for
vicarious liability "if liability is predicated solely upon the acts of a professional employee who has
the benefit of the statute.") (citing Sheils v. Jack Eckerd Corp., 560 So. 2d 361 (Fla. 2d DCA 1990)
(statute of limitations for actions for professional malpractice was applicable to claims against
employer predicated solely on the negligence of the employee)). Moreover, it is persuasive that
section 95.11 (7), on which both Hearndon and Cisko partly rely, contains no limitation that the claim
be one against the perpetrator in order for it to apply...
The next question is whether the acts of Caridad and Biggers, as alleged in the Complaint,
plausibly fall within the course and scope of their employment and were to further the purpose or
interest of the Church Defendants. "Under the doctrine ofrespondeat superior, an employer cannot
be held liable for the tortious or criminal acts of an employee, unless the acts were committed during
the course of the employment and to further a purpose or interest, however excessive or misguided,
of the employer." Iglesia Cristiana La Casa Del Senor, Inc. v. L.M, 783 So. 2d 353, 356 (Fla. 3d
DCA 2001) (citing Nazareth v. Herndon Ambulance Serv., Inc., 467 So. 2d 1076, 1078 (Fla. 5th
DCA 1985)); Perez v. Zazo, 498 So.2d 463, 465 (Fla. 3d DCA 1986) ("It is entirely clear that
responsibility for the intentional wrongful acts of a servant-employee may be visited upon his
master-employer under the doctrine of respondeat superior only when that conduct in some way
furthers the interests ofthe master or is at least motivated by a purpose to serve those interests, rather
than the employee's own. ")(footnote omitted). "Under Florida law, an employee's conduct is within
the scope of his employment where: 1) the conduct is of the kind he was employed to perform; 2)
the conduct occurs substantially within the time and space limits authorized or required by the work
to be performed, and 3) the conduct is activated at least in part by a purpose to serve the master."
Iglesia Cristiana La Casa Del Senor, Inc., 783 So. 2d at 357 (citing Sussman v. Florida E. Coast
Props., Inc., 557 So. 2d 74, 75-76 (Fla. 3dDCA 1990)); Gowanv. BayCnty., 744 So. 2d 1136, 1138
(Fla. 1st DCA1999).
"'Generally, sexual assaults and batteries by employees are held to be outside the scope of
an employee's employment and, therefore, insufficient to impose vicarious liability on the
employer."' Special Olympics Florida, Inc. v. Showalter, 6 So. 3d 662, 665 (Fla. 5th DCA 2009)
(quoting Nazareth, 467 So. 2d at 1078). However, courts have recognized an exception where the
employee/tortfeasor was assisted in accomplishing the tort by the existence of the
employee/employer relationship. Iglesia Cristiana La Casa Del Senor, Inc., 783 So. 2d at 357
(citing Nazareth, 467 So. 2d at 1078); Grice v. Air Products and Chem., Inc., No. 3:98-cv-205/RV,
2000 WL 353010, *13 (N.D. Fla. Feb. 7, 2000) (citing Hennagan v. Dep 't of Highway Safety and
Motor Vehicles, 467 So. 2d 748 (Fla. 1st DCA 1965)).
A number of courts have concluded that sexual abuse by members of the clergy does not fall
within the course or scope of employment as a matter of law, even at the motion to dismiss stage.
See, e.g., Eldersv. United Methodist Church, 793 So. 2d 1038, 1039 (Fla. 3d DCA 2001) (affirming
dismissal ofrespondeat superior claims); Tell v. Roman Catholic Bishops ofDiocese ofAllentown,
CIVA09C05171JAP,2010WL1691199, *11 &n.61 (Del. Super. Apr. 26,2010)("Thecourtswhich
have considered the issue have overwhelmingly, if not uniformly, have held that a priest who
sexually abuses another is not acting within the scope of his employment.") (collecting cases); Doe
v. Norwich Roman Catholic Diocesan Corp., 268 F: Supp.,2d 139, 142 (D. Conn. 2003) ("Usually,
it is a question of fact as to whether a wilful tort of the servant has occurred within the scope of the
servant's employment and was done to further his master's business .... But there are occasional
cases where a servant's digression from duty is so clear-cut that the disposition of the case becomes
a matter of law.... Cases of sexual abuse often represent such a strong deviation from furthering
an employer's business.") (citations and quotation omitted).
Notwithstanding the rational of these cases, an exception to the general rule is recognized in
Florida, where "the tortfeasor was assisted in accomplishing the tort by virtue of the
employer/employee relationship." Iglesia Cristiana La Casa Del Senor, Inc., 783 So. 2d at 357.
Based on the allegations in the Complaint, and because it.is a fact intensive inquiry, this issue is
more appropriately addressed at the summary judgment stage. See, e.g., id at 353 (case proceeded
to jury trial on the issue); United Technologies Corp. v. Mazer, 556 F.3d 1260, 1273 (11th Cir.
2009). For example, the Complaint includes allegations that Caridad, a Priest and a teacher, and
Biggers, a teacher and Choir Master, abused Plaintiff on Church and School property, utilized their
positions of authority to manipulate and intimidate Plaintiff, a minor at the time, had access to and
the opportunity to abuse Plaintiff because of their official positions and duties, and that Biggers
abused Plaintiff while giving him piano lessons as part of his education and while on Church choir
trips. Therefore, this claim survives Defendants' motions to dismiss.
The Corporate Existence of the Church and School
The Church also moves to dismiss Plaintiffs Complaint on the ground Plaintiff has failed
to plead sufficient facts to establish the existence of either Defendant as a corporate entity at the time
the alleged abuse occurred. For example, Plaintiff alleges that the School "was founded in 1951 but
not incorporated until 2000" and merely that the Church "is a Florida non-profit religious
institution." (Dkt. 1atifif2, 3). However, Plaintiff also alleges that "[u]ntil 2000, Defendant Church
and Defendant School were a single entity operating within the Diocese." (Id. at if 3). Plaintiff
concedes that under Florida law, an unincorporated church does not have the capacity to be sued, but
asserts that he is not required to prove the corporate existence of the Defendants at this time. (Dkt.
11 at 18 n.8).
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(a) states: "Exceptwhen required to show that the court has
jurisdiction, a pleading need not allege: (A) a party's capacity to sue or be sued." Fed. R. Civ. P.
9(a)(l)(A). Plaintiffs allegations do not conclusively establish whether the Church or the School
lack capacity to be sued. In addition, neither the Church nor the School have specifically denied that
they lack the capacity to be sued. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 9(a)(2). The capacity of the Defendants to be
sued is more appropriately addressed in a dispositive motion.
Defendant Caridad's Motion to Dismiss
For the reasons discussed, Caridad' s Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 5) will be denied. In addition,
as Plaintiffs claims against Caridad and Biggers are for battery, abuse, and sexual abuse, intentional
tort claims, the delayed discovery doctrine as adopted in Hearndon applies to these claims, and they
are not barred by the applicable statute of limitations.
Caridad also contends that the Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over Counts
I-VI pursuant to the First Amendment. He argues that the negligent supervision and retention claim
against the Church Defendants is barred by the First Amendment. The Florida Supreme Court has
held otherwise. 8 Malicki v. Doe, 814 So. 2d 347, 365 (Fla. 2002) (the First Amendment does not bar
claims for negligent hiring and supervision); also Doe v. Evans, 814 So. 2d 370, 377 (Fla. 2002)
(holding that the First Amendment does not bar consideration of negligent hiring and supervision
and breach offiduciary duty claims against a religious institution based on alleged sexual misconduct
a member of its clergy with a parishioner). "[W]ith regard to a third party tort claim against a
religious institution, ... the First Amendment does not provide a shield behind which a church may
avoid liability for harm arising from an alleged sexual assault and battery by one of its clergy
members." Malicki v, 814 So. 2d at 365.
Lastly, Caridad argues that Plaintiff may not proceed anonymously as "John Doe." Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure lO(a) requires that "every pleading" in federal court "must name all the
parties." Fed. R. Civ. P. lO(a). However, "[a] party may proceed anonymously in a civil suit in
8 The Florida case Caridad relies on, Doe v. Dorsey, 683 So. 2d 614 (Fla. 5th DCA 1996), did not decide the
case based on the First Amendment and nevertheless, was abrogated by Malicki v. Doe, 814 So. 2d 347, 365 (Fla. 2002).
federal court by showing that he 'has a substantial privacy right which outweighs the customary and
constitutionally-embedded presumption of openness in judicial proceedings."' Plaintif!B v. Francis,
631 F.3d 1310, 1315-16 (11th Cir. 2011) (quoting Doe v. Frank, 951 F.2d 320, 323 (11th
Cir.1992)). Francis considered whether "the issues involved are matters of a sensitive and highly
personal nature" such that the "practice of disclosing the parties' identities 'yields to a policy of
protecting privacy in a very private matter."' Id. (quoting S. Methodist Univ. Ass 'n of Women Law
Students v. Wynne &Jaffe, 599 F.2d 707, 712-13 (5th Cir. 1979)). 9 It is not enough to suggest that
a party may "suffer some personal embarrassment." Frank, 951 F.2d at 324. The court found that
"[t]he issues involved in this case could not be of a more sensitive and highly personal nature-they
involve descriptions of the Plaintiffs in various stages of nudity and engaged in explicit sexual
conduct while they were minors who were coerced by the Defendants into those activities." Id. at
Plaintiffs allegations of childhood sexual abuse by members of the clergy and employees
of the Church, School, and/or Diocese while he was a minor are similarly of a sensitive and highly
personal nature. Moreover, at this time Plaintiff only seeks to remain anonymous in court filings.
(Dkt. 7 at 4 n. l ). Caridad does not suggest he will suffer any prejudice, and therefore Plaintiff may
proceed anonymously at this time. However, any request to proceed anonymously other than in court
filings must be formally made and demonstrate a "substantial privacy right which outweighs the
The court also explained that "[t]he first step in analyzing a plaintiff's claim of a substantial privacy right is
to look at the three factors analyzed in SMU. First, are the plaintiffs seeking anonymity challenging governmental
activity? Second, will they be required to disclose information of the utmost intimacy? Third, will the plaintiffs be
compelled to admit their intention to engage in illegal conduct and thus risk criminal prosecution?" Francis, 631 F.3d
at 1316 (internal citation omitted). However, these factors "were not intended as a rigid, three-step test for the propriety
of party anonymity. Nor was the presence of one factor meant to be dispositive. Instead, they were highlighted merely
as factors deserving consideration. A judge, therefore, should carefully review all the circumstances of a given case and
then decide whether the customary practice of disclosing the plaintiff's identity should yield to the plaintiff's privacy
concerns." Frank, 951 F.2d at 323 (citations and quotation omitted).
customary and constitutionally-embedded presumption of openness in judicial proceedings." See
Defendant, Jon Caridad's, Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs Complaint (Dkt. 5) is
GRANTED to the extent that Counts IV, V and VI are DISMISSED with prejudice and DENIED
as to Counts I, II and III.
Defendant, Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida, Inc. 's, Motion to Dismiss
Plaintiffs Complaint (Dkt. 8) is GRANTED to the extent that Counts IV, V and VI are
DISMISSED with prejudice and DENIED as to Count III.
Defendants St. John's Episcopal Parish Day School, Inc.'s and St. John's Church's
Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. 6) is GRANTED to the extent that Counts IV, V and VI are DISMISSED
with prejudice and DENIED as to Count III.
Defendants shall answer the Complaint within fourteen (14) days of the date of this
DONE AND ORDERED this
_l_l_day of February, 2014.
Copies to: Counsel of Record
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