Subscribe to School Law Newsletter
Close Window

Duty to Protect Children from Sexual Assault May Exist

In the case of Fonderlin v. Trumbull Family Fitness, 2023-Ohio-767, an appellate court found that a mother sufficiently alleged facts to allow a jury to decide if a family fitness center owed a duty to the mother’s minor son to protect the son from being sexually assaulted by two other children.

In this case, the mother argued that the fitness center undertook a duty to supervise the son and other underage children in a locker room because the fitness center had a policy prohibiting children from being left unattended, the son and alleged assailants were left alone despite prior knowledge that they did not get along with each other, and the fitness center staff were trained not to leave children alone in locker rooms for more than ten minutes at a time. In response, the fitness center argued that, as the assault was unforeseeable, it had no duty to exercise ordinary care in supervising any minor children in the locker room. The appellate court agreed with the mother.

In support of its decision in favor of the mother, the appellate court explained “that children have special status in tort law and that duties of care owed to children are different from duties owed to adults.” 2023-Ohio-767 at ¶ 30. The appellate court further explained that the mother “raised genuine issues of material fact as to whether [the fitness center] assumed a duty to supervise and whether it violated this duty by failing to exercise ordinary care in its supervision of the child in the locker room” and a jury would need to decide whether the duty was assumed and violated. Id. at ¶ 35.

To read this case, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always-changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.