Jane Roe, as parent and natural guardian of Judy Roe, James Roe, and Joyce Roe, Minor Children Under the Age of Eighteen, Appellants,
Daniel Bibby Sr. and Michelle Bibby, Defendants, of whom Michelle Bibby is the Respondent Appellate Case No. 2012-213350.
Heard: June 11, 2014.
Appeal From Berkeley County. R. Markley Dennis, Jr.,
Circuit Court Judge.
Eric Marc Poulin, of Anastopoulo Law Firm, LLC, of North Charleston, for Appellants.
Eugene P. Corrigan, III, and J. W. Nelson Chandler, both of Corrigan & Chandler, LLC, of Charleston, for Respondent.
LOCKEMY, J. KONDUROS, J., concurs. WILLIAMS, J., dissents in a separate opinion.
[410 S.C. 290] LOCKEMY,
Jane Roe, as parent and natural guardian of Judy Roe, James Roe, and Joyce Roe, minor children under the age of eighteen (minor Appellants), (collectively with Roe, Appellants) argues the circuit court erred in granting Michelle Bibby's (Respondent) motion for summary judgment. Appellants argue Respondent had a duty to warn them under the special relationship exception and a premises liability theory. We affirm.
[410 S.C. 291] FACTS/PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
This case involves allegations by the minor Appellants of sexual molestation by their neighbor, Daniel Bibby, Sr. The molestation allegedly occurred in a home owned by Mr. Bibby and his wife, Respondent.
Respondent and Mr. Bibby were married in 1969 and had three children. In 1995, the Bibbys' sixteen-year-old daughter disclosed that her father had sexually molested her when she was younger. Respondent confronted her husband about the allegations and Mr. Bibby admitted he had touched their daughter inappropriately. The molestation was reported to the South Carolina Department of Social Services (SCDSS) and Mr. Bibby was removed from the home and placed in counseling. Sometime thereafter, Mr. Bibby was permitted to return to the home.
In 2008, Roe, her husband, and the minor Appellants moved into a home across the street from the Bibbys. At the time, one of the Bibby's adult children was living with the Bibbys along with two of the Bibbys' grandchildren. The Bibby grandchildren and the minor Appellants became friends and often played together and visited each other's homes. Respondent was working outside the home at this time and was not always present when the minor Appellants were visiting. Respondent never informed Appellants of Mr. Bibby's prior acts of sexual abuse.
In April 2009, Mr. Bibby admitted to a counselor that he had been molesting his granddaughter. Upon learning of this admitted molestation, Roe questioned her children about any possible abuse. Minor Appellant Joyce confirmed that Mr. Bibby had touched her chest and threatened to kill her if she told anyone. Minor Appellant Judy also revealed similar accusations. Roe called the police and the minor Appellants were referred to the Dorchester Children's Center, where Judy was forensically interviewed. During her interview, Judy stated Mr. Bibby held her in a room with his granddaughter and took his clothes off and forced the children to take their clothes off as well. According to Judy, Mr. Bibby touched her breasts and vagina with his hands and made Judy touch the granddaughter as well. Judy also stated she was exposed to pornography in the Bibby household.
[410 S.C. 292] According to Roe, she had no knowledge of Mr. Bibby's prior sexual abuse of his daughter and she had no reason to suspect it was unsafe for her children to play at the Bibbys' home. Roe further testified she never would have allowed her children to visit the Bibby household had she been warned of Mr. Bibby's sexual propensities. Mr. Bibby denied touching the minor Appellants. He was convicted of molesting his granddaughter, but he
was not prosecuted for any actions involving the minor Appellants.
On October 15, 2010, Appellants filed suit asserting causes of action against Mr. Bibby for assault, battery, false imprisonment, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Appellants alleged Mr. Bibby sexually assaulted Judy and attempted to sexually assault Joyce. Appellants also alleged Joyce and minor Appellant James witnessed the sexual assault of Judy. Appellants asserted causes of action against Respondent for negligence and wrongful infliction of emotional distress on a bystander.
Mr. Bibby failed to file a responsive pleading and Appellants obtained a default judgment against him. Respondent answered the complaint and denied Appellants' allegations. Thereafter, in April 2012, Respondent filed a motion for summary judgment alleging she did not owe a duty to Appellants. Respondent's summary judgment motion was heard on July 10, 2012, and the court took the matter under advisement. Subsequently, on October 12, 2012, the circuit court ...