Evans v. Tacoma Sch. Dist. No. 10, No. 47612–6–II

CourtCourt of Appeals of Washington
Writing for the CourtMaxa, J.
Citation195 Wash.App. 25,380 P.3d 553
Parties Angela Evans, Appellant, v. Tacoma School District No. 10, Respondent.
Docket NumberNo. 47612–6–II
Decision Date12 July 2016

195 Wash.App. 25
380 P.3d 553

Angela Evans, Appellant,
v.
Tacoma School District No. 10, Respondent.

No. 47612–6–II

Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 2.

July 12, 2016


Thaddeus Phillip Iv Martin, Attorney at Law, 4928 109th St. SW, Lakewood, WA, 98499–3731, Paul Alexander Lindenmuth, Ben F. Barcus & Associates PLLC, 4303 Ruston Way, Tacoma, WA, 98402–5313, Counsel for Appellant.

Charles Philip Edwar Leitch, Angela Nicole Marshlain, Patterson Buchanan Fobes & Leitch Inc. PS, 2112 3rd Avenue Suite 500, Seattle, WA, 98121–2326, Counsel for Respondent.

Maxa, J.

195 Wash.App. 29

¶ 1 Angela Evans appeals the dismissal of her multiple claims against the Tacoma School District (District) arising from a sexual relationship between her minor daughter JM, a student at a District school, and Jesse Brent, a District security guard. Evans filed suit to recover her own damages, not any damages JM may have sustained. The trial court granted the District's CR 12(b)(6) motion on Evans's claims for seduction of a child, alienation of a child's affections, and negligent hiring, retention, supervision and/or training, and later granted summary judgment in favor of the District on Evans's claim for negligent failure to report child abuse under RCW 26.44.030.1

¶ 2 We hold that (1) although the torts of seduction of a child and alienation of a child's affections are viable under Washington law, the District has no vicarious liability because Brent's conduct was done for his personal sexual gratification and therefore was outside the scope of his employment as a matter of law; (2) the District was entitled to summary judgment on the alleged failure to report child abuse under RCW 26.44.030 because there was no genuine issue of material fact that District employees, other than

195 Wash.App. 30

the perpetrator, had no reasonable cause to believe that JM had suffered child abuse, but (3) the trial court erred in dismissing Evans's negligent hiring, retention, supervision and/or training claims under CR 12(b)(6) because the District potentially owed a duty to Evans.

¶ 3 Accordingly, we affirm the trial court's CR 12(b)(6) order on the claims for seduction of a child and alienation of a child's affections and summary judgment order on the failure to report child abuse. But we reverse the trial court's CR 12(b)(6) order on the negligent hiring, retention, supervision and/or training claims.

FACTS

Complaint

¶ 4 Evans filed a complaint against the District, seeking to recover for her personal

380 P.3d 556

damages. JM was not included as a plaintiff in the lawsuit, and Brent was not named as a defendant.

¶ 5 Evans alleged that Brent, an adult security guard at Tacoma's Science and Math Institute (SAMI), sexually groomed and had a sexual relationship with JM, who was a student at SAMI and under 18 years old at the time. Evans alleged that Brent and JM had exchanged thousands of text messages and that Brent had forced JM to send him sexual and nude pictures, had statutorily raped JM, and had impregnated JM. Evans also alleged that several District staff members had observed an inappropriate relationship between JM and Brent and had failed to report the relationship or take any other action. Evans alleged that because of Brent's conduct, she no longer had a relationship with JM and the parent-child relationship had been forever damaged and destroyed.

¶ 6 Evans's complaint asserted numerous causes of action, including seduction of a child under RCW 4.24.020 ; common law negligence; negligent hiring, retention, supervision and/or training; and negligent failure to report

195 Wash.App. 31

suspected abuse under RCW 26.44.030. Evans alleged that the District was vicariously liable for the conduct of its employees.

CR 12(b)(6) Motion to Dismiss

¶ 7 The District filed a motion to dismiss each of Evans's claims with prejudice under CR 12(b)(6). The trial court granted the District's motion to dismiss Evans's claims for seduction of a child, alienation of affection,2 and negligent hiring, training, supervision and/or retention.3 The trial court ruled that the seduction of a child and alienation of affection claims could only be brought against the perpetrator and not against the District. For the negligent hiring, training, supervision and/or retention claim, the trial court ruled that the District owed a duty to JM as a student but not to Evans as her parent. The trial court denied the District's motion to dismiss Evans's claim for negligent failure to report child abuse under RCW 26.44.030.4

Summary Judgment Motion—Duty to Report

¶ 8 After the parties conducted discovery, the District filed a summary judgment motion on Evans's remaining claim for negligent failure to report child abuse. In opposition, Evans did not present any evidence that the District knew before JM turned 18 that Brent and JM had a sexual relationship. However, she argued that the District knew or should have known that there was an abusive grooming/romantic relationship between Brent and JM and that

195 Wash.App. 32

District employees should have reported that relationship. In support of this assertion, Evans submitted deposition testimony from District employees and the declaration of a former SAMI student.

¶ 9 Carol Brouillette was JM's English teacher for the 2011–2012 school year. Brouillette stated that Brent was in her classroom “pretty often” while working as the security guard at SAMI. Clerk's Papers (CP) at 301. She characterized Brent's conduct as “hanging out in the back and talking to students and being in the way,” CP at 301, and “talking and joking with a group of students” in the back of the classroom. CP at 302. Brouillette stated that Brent's conduct was not concerning, just annoying. Brouillette did not remember how long Brent would stay in the classroom or how often he was present, but she remembered that she was annoyed by Brent's conduct for a long period of time. When asked if it appeared

380 P.3d 557

that Brent was maintaining proper boundaries during her class, Brouillette responded that she felt that Brent's relationship with students was “informal and unprofessional but not dangerous.” CP at 302.

¶ 10 Kristin Tinder is the assistant principal at SAMI. Tinder stated that in the fall of 2011 two teachers expressed concerns about Brent spending too much time in their classrooms. Tinder stated that she spoke to Brent about spending extended periods of time in classrooms and subsequently did not receive any other reports of Brent spending too much time in classrooms. Tinder “never had any concerns about [Brent] singling out particular students.” CP at 308.

¶ 11 Kuammesha Moore was a classmate of JM. Moore stated in her declaration that (1) during JM's junior year at SAMI (2011–2012), “it was obvious that [Brent] had some sort of inappropriate romantic/flirtatious relationship with [JM],” CP at 334–35; (2) Brent was “always” around JM in classes and on campus, CP at 335; (3) Brent would come into JM's English class, taught by Brouillette, where Brent would stand or sit in the back of the classroom to talk and

195 Wash.App. 33

flirt with JM for the entire class; (4) Brouillette “most definitely observed and acknowledged” Brent's presence, CP at 335; (5) it was obvious to the classroom students that Brent's attentions for JM were “inappropriate, flirtatious and appeared romantic,” CP at 335; (6) students made comments to Brent about the relationship in front of Brouillette, such as “Why don't you do your job?” and “Why so much attention for [JM]?”, CP at 335; and (7) she had personal knowledge that the SAMI administrators and teachers had observed Brent “exclusively talking and flirting” with JM. CP at 335.

¶ 12 The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the District and dismissed Evans's claim for negligent failure to report child abuse. The trial court ruled that the District did not owe Evans, as JM's mother, a duty under RCW 26.44.030 and therefore could not be liable for failure to report.

¶ 13 Evans appeals the trial court's CR 12(b)(6) and summary judgment orders.

ANALYSIS

A. STANDARD OF REVIEW

¶ 14 The trial court dismissed Evans's claims for seduction of a child, alienation of affection, and negligent hiring, retention, supervision and/or training under CR 12(b)(6). CR 12(b)(6) provides a defense for the “failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.”

¶ 15 We review de novo a CR 12(b)(6) order dismissing a claim. J.S. v. Vill. Voice Media Holdings, LLC , 184 Wash.2d 95, 100, 359 P.3d 714 (2015). We accept as true all facts alleged in the plaintiff's complaint and all reasonable inferences from those facts. Id. We also “may consider hypothetical facts supporting the plaintiff's claim.” FutureSelect Portfolio Mgmt., Inc. v. Tremont Grp. Holdings, Inc. , 180 Wash.2d 954, 962, 331...

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20 practice notes
  • Anderson v. Soap Lake Sch. Dist., No. 93977-2
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • August 9, 2018
    ...hiring, retention, supervision and training are analytically different from vicarious liability." Evans v. Tacoma Sch. Dist. No. 10, 195 Wash. App. 25, 47, 380 P.3d 553, review denied, 186 Wash.2d 1028, 385 P.3d 124 (2016). "They are based on the concept that the employer’s own negligence i......
  • Vopnford v. Wellcare Health Plans, CASE NO. C16-1835JLR
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Washington)
    • August 8, 2017
    ...of CHMI employees acting fully within the scope of their employment. (See Am. Compl. ¶¶ 3.32-3.75); cf. Evans v. Tacoma Sch. Dist. No. 10, 380 P.3d 553, 559 (Wash. Ct. App. 2016) (quoting Thompson v. Everett Clinic, 860 P.2d 1054, 1058 (1993)) ("[C]onduct not performed in furtherance of the......
  • Hamilton v. Kitsap Cnty., No. 50570-3-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • January 3, 2019
    ...employer's failure to supervise was the proximate cause of the injuries suffered. Evans v. Tacoma Sch. Dist. No. 10, 195 Wn. App. 25, 47, 380 P.3d 553 (2016); see Niece, 131 Wn.2d at 48-49, 52; Briggs v. Nova Servs., 135 Wn. App. 955, 966-67, 147 P.3d 616 (2006). Whether employees were acti......
  • Hamilton v. Kitsap County, 50570-3-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • January 3, 2019
    ...employer's failure to supervise was the proximate cause of the injuries suffered. Evans v. Tacoma Sch. Dist. No. 10, 195 Wn.App. 25, 47, 380 P.3d 553 (2016); see Niece, 131 Wn.2d at 48-49, 52; Briggs v. Nova Servs., 135 Wn.App. 955, 966-67, 147 P.3d 616 (2006). Whether employees were acting......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
20 cases
  • Anderson v. Soap Lake Sch. Dist., No. 93977-2
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • August 9, 2018
    ...hiring, retention, supervision and training are analytically different from vicarious liability." Evans v. Tacoma Sch. Dist. No. 10, 195 Wash. App. 25, 47, 380 P.3d 553, review denied, 186 Wash.2d 1028, 385 P.3d 124 (2016). "They are based on the concept that the employer’s own negligence i......
  • Vopnford v. Wellcare Health Plans, CASE NO. C16-1835JLR
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Western District of Washington)
    • August 8, 2017
    ...of CHMI employees acting fully within the scope of their employment. (See Am. Compl. ¶¶ 3.32-3.75); cf. Evans v. Tacoma Sch. Dist. No. 10, 380 P.3d 553, 559 (Wash. Ct. App. 2016) (quoting Thompson v. Everett Clinic, 860 P.2d 1054, 1058 (1993)) ("[C]onduct not performed in furtherance of the......
  • Hamilton v. Kitsap Cnty., No. 50570-3-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • January 3, 2019
    ...employer's failure to supervise was the proximate cause of the injuries suffered. Evans v. Tacoma Sch. Dist. No. 10, 195 Wn. App. 25, 47, 380 P.3d 553 (2016); see Niece, 131 Wn.2d at 48-49, 52; Briggs v. Nova Servs., 135 Wn. App. 955, 966-67, 147 P.3d 616 (2006). Whether employees were acti......
  • Hamilton v. Kitsap County, 50570-3-II
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Washington
    • January 3, 2019
    ...employer's failure to supervise was the proximate cause of the injuries suffered. Evans v. Tacoma Sch. Dist. No. 10, 195 Wn.App. 25, 47, 380 P.3d 553 (2016); see Niece, 131 Wn.2d at 48-49, 52; Briggs v. Nova Servs., 135 Wn.App. 955, 966-67, 147 P.3d 616 (2006). Whether employees were acting......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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