Summary Judgment Granted to Au Pair Agency in Sex Abuse Case

Federal Court judge Denise Casper has entered summary judgment for Defendant Cultural Care in a case brought by plaintiff, on behalf of herself and her son, alleging gross negligence, fraud, fraudulent and deceptive business practices in violation of Massachusetts and Illinois law and intentional infliction of emotional distress after an au pair provided by the defendants allegedly sexually abused her son.

Casper ruled that with respect to the allegation of inadequate screening, [plaintiff Jane] Doe presents no evidence that Defendants did not properly screen [au pair Julian] Reyes or that through [defendant] Cultural Care’s screening process, there was any indication that Reyes had any propensity for or had ever engaged in any abusive behavior.

“Doe also alleges Cultural Care failed to conduct a criminal background search. The record shows that this allegation is not true; Cultural Care conducted a background check which revealed that Reyes had no criminal record. …

“… The failure to provide Doe with the other host family’s information or failing to inform Doe that Reyes had been discharged by two prior host families simply does not demonstrate the requisite indifference or ‘the want of even scant care’ … required to establish gross negligence. …The same is true as to the Defendants’ alleged failure to inform Doe that Reyes was a smoker or drinker prior to hiring him.

… Nor could a jury conclude that it was reasonably foreseeable — i.e., that Defendants knew or should have known — that John Doe would be abused as a result of Defendants’ conduct and that Defendants were therefore grossly negligent in placing Reyes in, and not removing him earlier, from Doe’s residence. …

“… The amended complaint alleges that Defendants violated ch. 93A by ‘engaging in a pattern and practice of inadequate screening, concealing problems with au pairs and making knowing or willful misrepresentations concerning the circumstances surrounding the separation of au pairs from prior host families,’ … but as explained above, Doe has failed to show that Defendants’ conduct including the alleged misrepresentations or omissions caused the harm allegedly suffered by John Doe. Summary judgment is therefore granted in Defendants’ favor as to Count V.”

The case is Doe v. Cultural Care, Inc., et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 02-294-11) (21 pages) (Casper, J.) (USDC) (Civil Action No. 10-11426-DJC) (Oct. 7, 2011).