F. T. v. W. Linn-Wilsonville Sch. Dist.

Decision Date06 April 2022
Docket NumberA169939
Citation318 Or.App. 692,509 P.3d 655
Parties F. T., as guardian ad litem for F. G., a minor proceeding under a pseudonym, Plaintiff-Appellant, and S. D., an individual proceeding under a pseudonym, Plaintiff, v. WEST LINN-WILSONVILLE SCHOOL DISTRICT, an Oregon Public School District, authorized and chartered by the laws of the State of Oregon, Defendant-Respondent.
CourtOregon Court of Appeals

Travis Eiva, Portland, argued the cause for appellant. Also on the opening brief were Stephen F. Crew and Peter B. Janci. Also on the reply brief were Stephen F. Crew, Peter B. Janci, and William Stewart.

Blake H. Fry, Portland, argued the cause for respondent. Also on the brief were Peter R. Mersereau and Mersereau Shannon LLP.

Before Mooney, Presiding Judge, and Lagesen, Chief Judge, and DeVore, Senior Judge.*


Plaintiff filed this action as guardian ad litem for her minor son F, seeking damages from the defendant, West Linn School District (the district), in which F was enrolled, for harm caused by a teacher who sexually assaulted F in F's home. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the district on plaintiff's direct negligence claim. Plaintiff appeals.1 As we explain below, we conclude that the trial court did not err, and we therefore affirm.


This is a civil case and, as such, the parties have a "right of Trial by Jury." Or. Const., Art. I, § 17. However, a party against whom a claim is asserted "may * * * move * * * for a summary judgment in that party's favor as to all or any part of any claim or defense." ORCP 47 B. To avoid summary judgment in favor of the moving party, the nonmoving party has "the burden of producing evidence on any issue raised in the motion as to which [the plaintiff] would have the burden of persuasion at trial." Two Two v. Fujitec America, Inc. , 355 Or. 319, 324, 325 P.3d 707 (2014) (internal quotation marks omitted). We view the record in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party—here, plaintiff—resolving all reasonable inferences in her favor. Jennewein v. MCIMetro Access Transmission Services , 308 Or. App. 396, 400, 481 P.3d 939 (2021). Our task is to determine whether, on this record, an "objectively reasonable juror could return a verdict for [plaintiff] on the matter that is the subject of the motion for summary judgment." Sanders v. Vigor Fab, LLC , 308 Or. App. 282, 283, 480 P.3d 999 (2020), rev. den. , 368 Or. 702, 497 P.3d 1236 (2021). Ultimately, we will affirm a grant of summary judgment where the record shows that there is "no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law." Jennewein , 308 Or. App. at 400, 481 P.3d 939.


For purposes of our review, the material facts are largely undisputed, and we state them in accordance with the standard of review.

F lived in California with his family until the fall of 2015 when he moved to Oregon to attend West Linn High School (WLHS) with his sister, M, who had already attended her freshman year there. While attending school, F and M lived with their cousin, Swanson, and her boyfriend, Olson, in Olson's Lake Oswego home (the lake house). F began attending WLHS on August 31, 2015.

Peachey was a Spanish teacher, employed by the district. Peachey was also advisor to the "link crew," a school orientation program that assists freshmen with the transition to high school, and a coach.

There had been concerns about Peachey's teaching skills, for which he had been under structured administrative oversight for several years. In particular, the district was concerned that Peachey's Spanish-1 and Spanish-2 students were "underperforming" in their next level Spanish studies. Peachey developed a reputation among students as an easy teacher and, while he was generally well-liked by his students, he received mixed reviews on student evaluations. Peachey occasionally took students off campus to lunch at restaurants. He put photographs of students taken off campus in his classroom. Peachey sometimes hugged his students, including F. After classes began, Peachey placed a photograph of F in his classroom. He spent time with F and his friends outside of school, and he sometimes drank alcohol on those occasions.

Peachey was arrested twice for driving under the influence of intoxicants (DUII) while employed as a WLHS teacher—once in 2010 and once in 2012. The DUIIs occurred after school hours. The 2012 DUII occurred after Peachey left a party hosted by Hammond, a WLHS staff member. The district sent a letter to the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission in October of 2012, as required, reporting that Peachey had received his second DUII in a three-year period.

Olson owned the lake house. He was not employed by the district and, although Swanson once worked as a district secretary, she was not so employed at any time relevant to this case. Swanson and Peachey were friends. On occasion, Peachey would house-sit for Swanson and Olson, which entailed Peachey staying overnight at the lake house.

F met Peachey at the lake house in the summer of 2015. F participated in link crew before the school year started. Peachey gave F rides to and from link crew, basketball camp, and golf camp. Peachey also gave F and M rides between the lake house and school while Olson and Swanson were out of town. Peachey helped F and M register for classes, including F signing up for Peachey's Spanish class. F's mother knew that Peachey would house-sit at the lake house while Swanson and Olson were away and while her children were there.

Olson's daughter-in-law, Michelle Olson,2 was employed as a guidance counselor at WLHS. She first met F and his family through her father-in-law at the lake house. M had been on Michelle's "caseload" during the 2014/2015 school year, but Michelle was not F's guidance counselor. At some point in the fall of 2015, Michelle learned that another student, S, had reported being sexually abused by Peachey at the lake house. Michelle checked in with F and M when plaintiff asked her to do so, and M told her that they had more information about Peachey that they would like to share. At that point, Michelle sent them to speak with the school principal. Michelle did not participate in that conversation, because she wanted to keep work and family issues separate.

Peachey lived in the home of another WLHS teacher, Monson. They had been roommates for some period of time and, according to Monson, Peachey was gone a lot during the summer of 2015. She knew that he was house-sitting at the lake house and in the home of another friend as well. Monson was present at the lake house three times that summer. The first time was for a birthday celebration to which Peachey invited her. The next two times involved boating and similar activities. Kids were present and there was a "summer camp environment." Peachey was present on all three occasions, often "prepping snacks or lunches" in the kitchen. Monson did not see anyone that appeared to be under the influence of alcohol on her visits to the lake house.

S, a WLHS student, attended summer gatherings with Peachey at the lake house. He drank alcohol provided by Peachey on at least two of those occasions. S began staying overnight at the lake house in July and, on some of those nights, he would sleep in the same bedroom as Peachey. One morning, Swanson observed Peachey and S come out of the same bedroom, and she told Peachey that that was not appropriate. Swanson did not see Peachey provide alcohol to minors at the lake house, but she was later made aware that Peachey had done so, and she confronted him about that. Swanson "was just very shocked and frustrated," and she told Peachey "that it could not happen in our home, we cannot be providing alcohol to minors."

During the times in which Swanson and Olson were away, Peachey and F slept in one bedroom and F's sister slept in the other bedroom. During one of those nights, when Peachey was intoxicated, he tried to "spoon" with F, and he touched F's penis. F immediately left the bedroom and told his sister what had happened. Reports were made to law enforcement and school authorities. Criminal charges were brought, and Peachey later pleaded guilty to sexually abusing F. This lawsuit followed.


Plaintiff brought claims against the district arising out of Peachey's sexual abuse of F. The only aspect of this case that is before us on appeal is plaintiff's first claim for relief, count 1, in which she alleges that the district was directly negligent in failing to investigate and report "frequent credible rumors" about Peachey's "risk to minor male students," including that he was "engaged in [an] inappropriate relationship" with F; in retaining and in supervising Peachey as an employee after "being notified of the credible rumors" that he was "engaged in [an] inappropriate relationship" with F; in failing to adequately train its staff in "how to recognize, report, and prevent child sexual abuse"; and in "failing to properly implement common sense child abuse prevention policies."

Plaintiff assigns error to the trial court's granting of the district's motion for summary judgment on plaintiff's direct negligence claim. She argues that the educator-student relationship is a special relationship and that, because of that relationship, the district owes its students, including F, a heightened duty of care to protect them from abuse. She argues, further, that the "obligations of schools are further buttressed by traditional common law duties of all organizations to reasonably retain and supervise employees, so they do not cause foreseeable harms," and she contends that the district's heightened duty thus extends the school's responsibility to protect students from foreseeable dangers that may occur off campus or outside of classroom hours. Finally, plaintiff contends that there was sufficient evidence in the...

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