Baltimore Archdiocese, St. Mary’s Seminary Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Case name: E. Flannery and Liam Gallagher v. St. Mary’s Seminary & University, et al.
Case type: Sexual Violence, Title IX, and Victims’ Rights
Case no.: 24-C-23-002861 
Filed in:
 Circuit Court for Baltimore City

Case Summary

On June 27, 2023, Sanford Heisler Sharp and Grant & Eisenhofer, P.A. filed a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of Flannery and Liam Gallagher against the Archdiocese of Baltimore (“AOB”), its affiliated St. Mary’s Seminary and University, and the seminary’s owner, Society of St. Sulpice, for their roles in the 2022 death of the Plaintiffs’ father, Frank Gallagher Jr.

Mr. Gallagher died of a drug overdose, which was the culmination of lifelong trauma he suffered from being sexually abused at age 14 by a St. Mary’s seminarian, and defendants’ failure to protect him from a pedophile, the Complaint alleges.

Mr. Gallagher, a prominent Maryland lawyer and investment banker, was the son and namesake of Francis X. Gallagher, Sr., a Maryland state legislator, and racial justice advocate who in 1961 founded the influential law firm Gallagher Evelius & Jones based largely on his strong ties to the Archdiocese of Baltimore. When Frank Sr. died of a heart attack in 1972, the Gallagher law firm continued to profit from the founder’s relationship with the Archdiocese while failing to offer any financial help to Frank Sr.’s family. To help make ends meet, Frank Jr., took a job at age 14 as a nighttime receptionist at St. Mary’s, where he was sexually abused by a seminarian, Mark Haight, the Complaint alleges.

According to a 2023 report by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, the AOB was aware at the time that St. Mary’s was rife with pedophile seminarians and priests, including Haight.

After becoming a high-achieving professional and family man, Mr. Gallagher began in the 1990s to suffer the effects of his trauma as a survivor of child sexual abuse by engaging in risky sexual behavior and drug use. In 2000, when his family discovered the behavior, Mr. Gallagher revealed his history of child sexual abuse.

The sexual abuse he suffered had a profoundly negative impact on his personal and professional lives. At the time, however, Mr. Gallagher urged the AOB to take action to prevent his abuser, Haight, from victimizing more children and to support survivors such as himself. Instead, he was met with apathy, denials, and indifference by the AOB. This response, according to the Complaint, furthered Mr. Gallagher’s emotional distress, ultimately leading to his untimely death.

The Complaint alleges wrongful death on the basis of negligence, gross negligence and fraudulent concealment against the defendants for harboring a sexual predator and failing to provide a safe working environment at the time that Mr. Gallagher was employed as a minor at St. Mary’s.

The Complaint seeks compensatory and non-economic damages.

On April 24, 2024, the Court denied St. Mary’s Seminary and Society of St. Sulpice’s motion to dismiss the case.

Attorneys Involved in the Case

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