Hearing in suit against Catholic Diocese of Springfield moved to July

Amelia Flood Jun. 7, 2011, 10:00am


A motion hearing in a suit brought against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield related to an alleged attack by residents of a Catholic youth home in Alton has been pushed off to July.

Plaintiff Christina Geisen asked to continue a June 10 hearing set in the case because her attorney, John English, had previously committed to attend a law seminar that day.

Madison County Chief Judge Ann Callis granted the request to move the hearing date June 2.

The new hearing is set July 15 at 9 a.m.

Geisen is suing the Springfield diocese and the Catholic Children's Home of Alton for injuries she allegedly suffered when several of the home's residents attacked her in her home.

The attack allegedly occurred in November 2009.

Geisen alleges that the defendants failed to supervise and control the youths who attacked

The defendants filed a motion to dismiss Geisen's case May 13 alleging that under Illinois law the children's home was not required to detain residents and could not restrain the youths from leaving the facility at will.

"As a Child Care Institution, the Catholic Children's Home has no legal authority under Illinois statute or Illinois administrative regulations to detain its residents," the motion reads. "Thus, Illinois law allows residents to leave the facility if they choose to do so, in fact, the facility could not have restrained these children to prevent them from leaving."

The defendants point to the fact the attack did not occur on their property and that it lacked the requisite control over Geisen's attackers to sustain her claims.

The diocese and children's home cite the home's status as a Child Care Facility and make a distinction between that designation and that of a Secure Child Care Facility where residents can be detained by law.

"If the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services determined that the residents in question posed a danger to the public, it could have placed them in a Secure Child Care Facility or detention center instead of a Child Care Institution such as the Catholic Children's Home," the motion continues.

"However, the Illinois Department of Child and Family Services made a determination that the Catholic Children's Home was a more appropriate facility. It is the State of Illinois that determines the appropriate placement of youths in either Secure Child Care Facility (detention center) or a residential care facility such as The Catholic Children's Home. Thus, these considerations further support a finding that the Diocese of Springfield and the Catholic Children's Home owed no legal duty to the plaintiff."

Geisen is seeking damages in excess of $50,000 a count and other relief.

Daniel Farroll represents the defendants.

The case is Madison case number 11-L-163.

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