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WCM Wins Dismissal Involving Overseas Trip Sponsored By Charitable/Religious Organization (NY)

June 5, 2017

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Senior Partner Paul Clark and Associate Peter Luccarelli III successfully convinced the Appellate Division, First Department to reverse a New York County trial court’s decision denying our client’s motion for summary judgment in an alleged sexual assault case.<em> Lerner</em> involved a claim of a 19 year old participant in an overseas trip by our client, a charitable and religious organization. At the end of the day’s sponsored activities, plaintiff and several other trip participants, all of whom were of legal drinking age, retired to the hotel bar. At the hotel bar, plaintiff met, and later left with other male hotel guests who were not members of the trip. Hotel personnel later found plaintiff disoriented in a hallway, and the investigating officers determined that she may have been sexually assaulted and possibly drugged by her assailants. Plaintiff filed suit against our client for allegedly failing to properly supervise her and prevent her assault at the Hotel after all sponsored activities were over.
We moved for summary judgment on the basis that there was no duty to supervise an adult who drank in a hotel bar not owned, maintained, or controlled by our client. We further argued that any duty of care owed by our client to plaintiff was severed by the acts of the criminal third-parties who were unknown to our client. The trial court initially denied our motion on the basis that our client failed to prevent plaintiff from drinking excessively. On appeal, the First Department unanimously reversed the trial court order and granted our motion for summary judgment. The First Department held that even assuming a duty to prevent an adult plaintiff from drinking excessively, there was nothing our client could have done to prevent plaintiff’s alleged assailants from perpetrating an unforeseeable—and unfortunate—criminal act against her.
If you have any questions about this post, please email Paul at


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