Civil Procedure

Simpson Thacher Partner Who Alleges Childhood Abuse by Coach Is Allowed to Pursue RICO Claim


A judge’s ruling on Tuesday gives a BigLaw partner a chance to argue that his sexual abuse suit against a Brooklyn school should not be barred by the statute of limitations.

Simpson Thacher & Bartlett partner Philip Culhane will be allowed to argue that administrators at the Poly Prep Country Day School are equitably estopped from asserting time limits for lawsuits because they deceived the plaintiffs into believing they had no knowledge of a coach’s misconduct, the New York Law Journal reports. Culhane is one of a dozen plaintiffs who allege sexual abuse by football coach Philip Foglietta, who died in 1998.

The plaintiffs had argued the school violated the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act by covering up the abuse through wire fraud and witness tampering, the Am Law Daily reports. U.S. District Judge Frederic Block dismissed RICO claims against the school, saying it cannot be liable for racketeering, but allowed claims against individual defendants by Culhane and another plaintiff. Because both had donated to the school, they had met the RICO requirement for an injury to business or property, Block said.

Block also allowed negligence claims by 11 plaintiffs, as well as Title IX claims. The school said in a statement it believes the claims “will ultimately be dismissed following a hearing,” but it is also pursuing a settlement.

Culhane has said he suffered depression because of the abuse. He told the Am Law Daily that the facts and the law are against the school. “No matter what happens from this point on, I’ve achieved one of my most important goals,” Culhane said, “which is for the truth to be told.”

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