The plaintiff was a young autistic boy when his mother entrusted him to the care of her friend, the defendant. The defendant knew of the plaintiff’s vulnerabilities and of the special care that he required. But she failed to provide it, allowing the plaintiff, the plaintiff’s minor brother, and her minor son to spend long stretches of unsupervised time together. As a result, the defendant’s son sexually assaulted the plaintiff over the course of years. The abuse had a devastating effect on the plaintiff’s psyche.
The defendant was covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy, and the settlement accessed multiple policy years of coverage. The suit was contemplated pursuant to Kellermann v. McDonough, 278 Va. 478, 487 (2009). As the Supreme Court of Virginia recognized in that case, “when a parent relinquishes the supervision and care of a child to an adult who agrees to supervise and care for that child, the supervising adult must discharge that duty with reasonable care.”[19-T-131]
Type of action: Personal Injury/Sexual Abuse
Tried before: Mediation
Name of judge or mediator: Hon. Diane M. Strickland (Ret.)
Date resolved: July 30, 2019
Verdict or settlement: Settlement
Attorneys for plaintiff: Libbey Van Pelt, Chidi James and Peter Everett, Fairfax