Archdiocese Found Vicariously Liable in Mount Cashel Sexual Abuse Appeal
August 2020 Charity & NFP Law Update
Published on August 27, 2020

By Sean S. Carter, Jennifer M. Leddy and Terrance S. Carter


On July 28, 2020 the Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador released an important decision in John Doe (G.E.B. #25) v The Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John’s (the “Appeal Decision”), overturning a trial decision and holding the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John’s Newfoundland (the “Archdiocese”) vicariously liable for sexual and physical abuse committed by a civilian employee and members of the Christian Brothers Institute Inc. (“Christian Brothers”) against four former residents of the Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John’s in the late 1940s and 1950s.

This Bulletin provides a brief overview of the court’s decision with respect to its findings on the Archdiocese’s vicarious liability. It is an important decision because it is an example of the danger in assuming that an organization has mitigated its liability to the fullest extent possible by simply focusing on its internal policies with respect to the conduct of its employees, members and volunteers. In this regard, many organizations may assume that they are adequately protected because they have taken steps to protect against liability for the direct actions of that organization or its employees. However, this Appeal Decision demonstrates that vicarious liability can be interpreted and applied to find that an organization may become liable for unauthorized acts of employees, volunteers or members of other organizations, particularly when it concerns vulnerable persons, depending on the facts and the relationship between organizations.

For the balance of this Bulletin, please see Church Law Bulletin No. 58.


Read the August 2020 Charity & NFP Law Update