Schultz v. Boy Scouts Of America, Inc.

480 N.E.2d 679 (1985)


Ps were residents of Emerson, New Jersey, where their two sons, Richard, age 13, and Christopher, age 11, attended Assumption School, an institution owned and operated by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark. Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis, Inc. (D), supplied teachers for the school. Brother Edmund Coakeley (D), who also served as the scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 337, a locally chartered Boy Scout troop sponsored and approved by Boy Scouts of America (D) was a teacher. Richard and Christopher attended Coakeley's class and were members of his scout troop. Coakeley took Christopher to Pine Creek Reservation, a Boy Scout camp located in upstate New York. While at the camp, Coakeley sexually abused Christopher and continued to do so when Christopher returned to Assumption School in New Jersey that fall. Coakeley threatened Christopher with harm if he revealed what had occurred. The complaint also alleges that Coakeley sexually abused Richard and made similar threats to him during a Scout trip to Pine Creek Reservation. Both boys suffered severe psychological, emotional, and mental pain and suffering. Christopher committed suicide by ingesting drugs on May 29, 1979. Ps sued Ds in New York. The domicile of the Boy Scouts (D) was New Jersey; the domicile of the Franciscan Brothers (D) was Ohio. By the time of the suit, the Boy Scouts (D) had moved to Texas. Ps charged Ds with negligence in assigning Coakeley to positions of trust where he could molest young boys and in failing to dismiss him despite actual or constructive notice that Coakeley had previously been dismissed from another Boy Scout camp for similar improper conduct. Ps seek damages for Christopher's wrongful death and his psychological, emotional, and physical injuries prior to death. Ps seeks damages for similar personal injuries on Richard. Ps seek damages for their injuries, including the destruction of their family life, expenditures for medical and psychological care and treatment, mental anguish, and psychological injuries. Ds moved to dismiss under New Jersey's charitable immunity statute. Ps contend that under applicable choice-of-law principles, New York should apply its law, not that of New Jersey, and, alternatively, that even if the New Jersey charitable immunity statute applies under choice-of-law rules, the New York courts should refuse to enforce it on public policy grounds. The court dismissed and the Appellate Division affirmed. Ps appealed.