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Torres v. Sugar-Salem School District #322

United States District Court, D. Idaho

October 30, 2018

MIRIAM TORRES, fka MIRIAM SEVY, Plaintiff,
v.
SUGAR-SALEM SCHOOL DISTRICT #332, a political subdivision of the State of Idaho, and BRYCE OWEN, individually and in his capacity as a former employee of Sugar-Salem School District, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          DAVID C. NYE, U.S. DISTRICT COURT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Currently pending before the Court is Defendant Sugar-Salem School District's (“the District”) Motion for Plaintiff's Implied Waiver of Priest-Penitent Privilege (Dkt. 31), and the District's Motion for Extension of Time to File Dispositive Motions (Dkt. 32). Having reviewed the record and briefs, the Court finds that the facts and legal arguments are adequately presented. Accordingly, in the interest of avoiding further delay, and because the Court finds that the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument, the Court will decide the Motions without oral argument. Dist. Idaho Loc. Civ. R. 7.1(d)(2)(ii). For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds good cause to DENY both Motions.

         II. BACKGROUND

         In her Amended Complaint, Plaintiff Miriam Torres (“Torres”) alleges that Defendant Bryce Owen (“Owen”), a former counselor at Sugar-Salem High School, sexually assaulted, abused, and harassed her from the fall of 2010 until May of 2014, while she was a student at Sugar-Salem High school. Torres sued the District for its role in causing her harm based on respondeat superior liability, its failure to supervise, train, and monitor Owen, and its failure to investigate allegations made against him. On September 14, 2018, the District filed its Motion for Plaintiff's Implied Waiver of Priest-Penitent Privilege (Dkt. 31), alleging Torres impliedly waived the privilege by putting confidential communications with her former religious leaders at issue in this suit. The District also seeks an extension of time to file dispositive motions, so that it may depose the Torres' religious leaders. Dkt. 32, at 2.

         III. ANALYSIS

         A. Implied Waiver of Priest Penitent Privilege

         Federal Rule of Evidence 501 provides as follows:

The common law-as interpreted by United States courts in the light of reason and experience-governs a claim of privilege unless any of the following provides otherwise:
• the United States Constitution;
• a federal statute; or
• rules prescribed by the Supreme Court.
But in a civil case, state law governs privilege regarding a claim or defense for which state law supplies the rule of decision.

Fed. R. Evid. 501 (emphasis added). Here, both Torres and the District agree that federal common law governs the issue of priest-penitent privilege in this ...


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