Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Doe v. Pontifical College Josephinum

Court of Appeals of Ohio, Tenth District

March 30, 2017

John Doe, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
Pontifical College Josephinum, Defendant-Appellee.

         APPEAL from the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Case No. 15CV-10780

         On brief:

          Engel and Martin, LLC, and Joshua Adam Engel, for appellant.

         On brief:

          Harris McClellan Binau & Cox PLL, and Mark S. Coco, for appellee.

          DECISION

          TYACK, P.J.

         {¶ 1} Plaintiff-appellant, John Doe ("appellant"), appeals from a judgment of the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas dismissing his claims against defendant-appellee, Pontifical College Josephinum ("the Josephinum"), for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction pursuant to the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine. For the reasons that follow, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         {¶ 2} In December 2015, appellant filed a complaint in the common pleas court asserting that he was a former student at the Josephinum in a program designed to prepare students for careers as priests in the Roman Catholic Church. Appellant claimed he had enrolled in the Josephinum in August 2010 and was scheduled to graduate in May 2016 with a master's degree in theology. Appellant alleged that, in October 2015, he had a meeting with the Rector and Vice Rector of the Josephinum. At that meeting, the Vice Rector notified appellant that he had been dismissed from the Josephinum pursuant to an investigation conducted by the Vice Rector, in which the Vice Rector determined that there was a "credible accusation of homosexual activity" by appellant. (Dec. 9, 2015 Amended Compl. at ¶ 19.) Appellant was asked to turn in his identification card and room key and advised to leave the campus of the Josephinum. The Josephinum subsequently posted a public notice that appellant had been expelled.

         {¶ 3} Appellant asserted he had requested access to his academic file, including any disciplinary files, from the Josephinum. The Josephinum provided certain records, but did not provide any records related to the alleged misconduct or his dismissal. Appellant claimed he had appealed his dismissal from the Josephinum under canon law, but was unable to present a credible defense in that appeal because he lacked records from the Josephinum relating to his dismissal.

         {¶ 4} Appellant's complaint asserted claims for breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, unauthorized disclosure of confidential educational records, and unjust enrichment. The complaint also sought an award of attorney fees for bad-faith conduct. The complaint was filed anonymously and accompanied by a motion for leave for appellant to proceed under the pseudonym "John Doe." The common pleas court denied appellant's motion to proceed under a pseudonym and ordered appellant to refile his complaint. Appellant refiled the complaint under his own name.

         {¶ 5} The Josephinum moved to dismiss the complaint under Civ.R. 12(B)(1), asserting that the common pleas court lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over appellant's claims. The Josephinum argued that determination of appellant's claims would necessarily require the court to inquire into an ecclesiastical disciplinary process, which was barred by the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine. The common pleas court granted the Josephinum's motion to dismiss, concluding that appellant's claims were inextricably entangled with his assertion that he was improperly dismissed from the Josephinum and prevented from becoming a priest. Therefore, the court reasoned, it would be impossible to consider the claims in appellant's complaint without also considering his allegation of improper dismissal from the Josephinum.

         II. ASSIGNMENTS OF ERROR

         {¶ 6} Appellant appeals and assigns the following two assignments of error for our review:

[I]. THE TRIAL COURT COMMITTED ERROR BY DISMISSING THE COMP[L]AINT PURSUANT TO THE ECCLESIASTICAL ABSTENTION DOCTRINE.
[II]. THE TRIAL COURT ABUSED ITS DISCRETION WHEN IT FAILED TO PERMIT THE PLAINTIFF TO PROCEED AS JOHN DOE.

         III. DISCUSSION

         {¶ 7} In his first assignment of error, appellant asserts that the trial court erred by dismissing his claims for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction pursuant to the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine. Appellant argues that the ecclesiastical abstention doctrine does not apply to the claims presented in his complaint because they do ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.