Duty to Protect From Third-Party Harm in Sexual Abuse Cases

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will explore the standards applied by courts to determine who may face civil liability for physical or sexual abuse perpetrated by third parties. The panel will discuss the duty of care to protect victims from third-party harm, how these standards are argued and applied in various jurisdictions, and the role of policy considerations in assessing the existence of the duty and ultimate liability.


The applicable duty of care to prevent or protect against harm caused by a third-party perpetrator is a particularly significant inquiry. Sexual abuse, harassment, and similar lawsuits are tragically commonplace against all categories of defendants as plaintiffs seek damages from individuals and entities that allegedly employed, supervised, regulated, or otherwise had a relationship with a perpetrator who physically or sexually abused others.

Under the common law, the duty to protect from third-party harm is traditionally a narrow one. However, increasing litigation and media attention on sexual abuse has presented courts with the opportunity to consider various public policy arguments made by plaintiffs seeking to expand the scope of liability. Contemporaneously, many states are extending the statutes of limitation for these types of claims or instating a window of opportunity to revive previously time-barred claims.

Listen as this experienced panel reviews the duty of care to third parties as stated in the Restatement (Third) of Torts and as set forth by the highest courts in various jurisdictions, as well as limitations and expansions of the traditional understanding of this duty.



  1. The traditional scope of the duty to protect
  2. Applicable framework for determining the existence of duty
    1. Restatement (Third) of Torts
    2. Various jurisdictions
  3. Public policy considerations


The panel will review these and other pivotal issues:

  • What is the traditional scope of the duty to prevent harm from third parties?
  • What are the exceptions to the conventional view of "no duty"?
  • How have courts considered public policy factors?
  • What are some potential insurance implications?


DeGroote, Kiersty
Kiersty DeGroote


Ms. DeGroote's practice focuses on complex matters related to personal injury, employment law, and general...  |  Read More

Simpson, Heather
Heather E. Simpson

Kennedys Law

Ms. Simpson handles disputes throughout the United States. Her practice focuses on insurance coverage and commercial...  |  Read More

Whitlock, Kathryn
Kathryn S. (Kate) Whitlock

Hawkins Parnell & Young

Ms. Whitlock has spent her entire career defending people accused of not doing their jobs right. Whatever the...  |  Read More

Moldovan, Jessica
Jessica A. Moldovan

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein

Ms. Moldovan is an associate in the New York office of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein where she is a member of...  |  Read More

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