Application of PDVA to Economic Relationships: An Example

September 23, 2019

A nanny (defendant) was recently hired by the plaintiff and later terminated for assaulting the plaintiff’s child.  She had also applied for the nanny position using an alias.  After the termination, the defendant allegedly made numerous threatening phone calls, as well as sending threatening text messages, to the plaintiff.  The plaintiff later applied for a final restraining order, claiming that the defendant had committed the predicate acts of harassment, cyber-harassment and terroristic threats.  During this process, the court called into question whether the plaintiff qualified for protection under the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act (PDVA). 

            The PDVA defines a domestic violence victim as a person who has been subject to domestic violence by somebody who was “at any time a household member.”  The defendant in this case resided with the plaintiff and her child for approximately seven months before being terminated.  This is a sufficient time period for a relationship to be established that would make the plaintiff and her child vulnerable to the defendant’s threatening conduct because the defendant got to know them on a personal level and would know the routines of the household.  But a further question arises as to whether a final restraining order could be granted due to the fact that the relationship between the plaintiff and defendant was economical, e.g. it was conditional to whether the defendant was paid and was not a personal relationship.

            In looking at this case, the court used common law to determine the protection to which the plaintiff was entitled.  In prior cases, they noted that they had granted FRO’s based on economic relationships rather than personal ones.  Additionally, due to the fact that the defendant had gained a deep insight into the plaintiff and her child, she could easily subject them to acts of domestic violence that could occur in a more personal relationship.  In conclusion, the plaintiff was not automatically disqualified from PDVA protection due to the nature of the relationship between her and the defendant. 

            If you have been a victim of domestic violence, contact an attorney at The Law Offices of Curt J. Geisler right away to help build your case and protect yourself.

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