The Florida Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a request by the Archdiocese of Miami to take up a dispute involving allegations that a priest sexually abused a child.
Justices, as is common, did not explain their reasons for declining to hear the case.
The archdiocese wanted justices to review a decision by the 3rd District Court of Appeal that allowed the alleged victim to pursue a claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress against the archdiocese.
The lawsuit alleges that the plaintiff, identified as John Doe 1, was sexually abused dozens of times between 1999 and 2001, when he was 7 to 9 years old, according to a March 22 decision by a three-judge panel of the South Florida appeals court.
The case names as a defendant the archdiocese and not the priest. The appeals court rejected part of the lawsuit alleging negligence by the archdiocese, citing a four-year statute of limitations on negligence claims.
The lawsuit was filed in 2021, when the alleged victim was 29. But the appeals court overturned a circuit judge’s ruling that dismissed the intentional infliction of emotional distress claim.
It pointed to the interplay of two laws, including a 2010 law that lifted certain time restrictions on cases involving sexual batteries on victims under age 16.
While the appeals court said the negligence claim was barred by a statute of limitations, the claim of intentional infliction of emotional distress was not.
It also said the case could be brought against an “institution” — not just an individual.
In a brief filed in June at the Supreme Court, attorneys for the archdiocese argued that the March decision conflicted with a 2016 ruling by the 4th District Court of Appeal and that such cases could only be filed against individual abusers and not employers.
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