Matoesian to hear motion for damages in suit against Lutheran Church, teacher

Amelia Flood Apr. 4, 2011, 8:15am

Madison County Circuit Judge Andreas Matoesian is set to hear a plaintiff's plea for damages against the only remaining defendant in a 2006 negligence suit filed against The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, its Southern Illinois district, Metro-East Lutheran High School, and a former staff member.

Matoesian is set to hear the move at 9 a.m. on Friday.

Plaintiff Jane Doe sued the Lutheran church, the school and Michael Vonderohe five years ago claiming that while she attended Metro-East Lutheran High School as a student between October and November 2003, Vonderohe made unwanted sexual advances toward her and that the school, and by extension the church, failed to protect her or put a stop to Vonderohe's actions.

The plaintiff claims to have suffered mental anguish and to have spent money on medical care as a result of the alleged acts.

The suit seeks damages in excess of $50,000 per each of its 23 counts including claims of battery, assault, breach of contract, and infliction of emotional distress.

All of the parties except Vonderohe settled with Doe Aug. 15, 2008 for an undisclosed sum.

All parties were to bear their own costs.

Matoesian approved that settlement Aug. 26, 2008.

Doe moved for a hearing on damages Feb. 18, 2011.

In that motion, the plaintiff claims that Vonderohe is in default and that the court should enter an order of damages against him.

The plaintiff asks that upon the Court's approval of a hearing date, the court would review her damages request in camera in lieu of live testimony.

Jane Does cites the "sensitive nature of the subject matter," and the fact she is attending college out of state and resides outside Illinois.

"That this case surrounds the sexual abuse of a teacher directed to a student (at the time of the events alleged), and thus the request to 'seal' the information to be considered by the Court, is appropriate given the nature of the claim and the potentially devastating result should the information contained therein be made public," the motion pleads.

There has been no response from Vonderohe to the February motion for damages.

D. Jeffrey Ezra represents Jane Doe.

T. Michael Ward represented the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod.

John Cunningham also represented the church.

John F. Cooney represents the church's Southern Illinois District.

The case is Madison case number 06-L-761.

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