Rockefeller Estate Must Face Lawsuit Over Alleged Sex Assault by Chauffeur, Judge Rules
(Bloomberg) -- David Rockefeller’s estate can’t dodge a lawsuit filed by a woman who alleged she was sexually assaulted 33 years ago by the late billionaire’s chauffeur, a federal judge ruled.
Rockefeller, the former chairman and chief executive officer of Chase Manhattan Corp., hired the chauffeur without checking his references or running a background check, according to the lawsuit brought by the woman, identified only as C.Q.
She was seven at the time of the alleged assault and was the daughter of Rockefeller’s live-in chef at his mansion in Sleepy Hollow, New York.
Rockefeller threw a big party in the spring of 1988. This required C.Q.’s mother to work long hours. So he “decided to provide child care for plaintiff and her brother while their mother worked in the kitchen, but he declined to hire a qualified babysitter,” according to a summary of the allegations included in Thursday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick.
Instead, he gave the chauffeur, Luis Oliveira, the job. Oliveira had a history of domestic abuse and accusations of sexual assault, according to the lawsuit. He drove the kids to Rockefeller’s Manhattan apartment and during the night sexually assaulted the girl, according to the suit. He later pleaded guilty to criminal charges and has since died.
Rockefeller died in 2017. C.Q. sued his estate last year for negligence. The estate argued that the lawsuit should be dropped because it wasn’t responsible for the harm caused by Oliveira.
The judge denied the request, saying that Rockefeller had owed a duty to C.Q. “to take precautions to protect her from foreseeable harm from Oliveira.”
Broderick dismissed some of the claims in the case and rejected C.Q.’s request for punitive damages, noting that courts have said they aren’t allowed in suits involving the heirs of responsible parties.
The case is C.Q. v. Estate of David Rockefeller, 1:20-cv-02205, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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