Schmidt v. Slader

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Tort Law
  • Date Filed: 05-29-2014
  • Case #: A148950
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Ortega, P.J., for the Court; Wollheim, J.; & Sercombe, J.
  • Full Text Opinion

Direct causation, rather than reasonable foreseeability, is the sine qua non of respondeat superior liability. Evidence regarding acts that are the outgrowth of and within the scope of employment ought to be obtained and presented to the court.

Schmidt appealed the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Slader, the attorney who represented Schmidt in a previous child sex abuse case against the Archdiocese of Portland. Schmidt contended that Slader did not adequately research and present Schmidt's history with the priest who had abused him prior to the abuse. As a result of the lack of research, Schmidt lost his case against the Archdiocese in the summary judgment phase due to an absence of direct evidence linking the priest's employment to the abuse that occurred. This Court found that if Slader had presented the evidence to establish that there had been a prior relationship between the priest and Schmidt, a reasonable jury could infer that the later sexual misconduct arose within the scope of the priest's employment by the Archdiocese. The Court upheld their standard that “direct causation, not 'reasonable foreseeability' is the sine qua non of respondeat superior liability.” Reversed and remanded.

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