Posts Tagged ‘Catholic Church’

News of diocesan bankruptcies

Sign of the times: Bankruptcy Creditors’ Service, Inc., has launched a new publication entitled Catholic Church Bankruptcy News, its mission being to keep track of legal proceedings in the case of the insolvency of the Diocese of Portland, Oregon, and whatever other dioceses or church institutions follow the same path into Chapter 11 under pressure from abuse claims. Subscribers will have to pay $45 for each issue, expected to appear approximately every 10 to 20 days, but a sample issue can be perused for free. (via Amy Welborn). One of the claimants suing the Portland diocese over abuse, whose trial had been set for Jul. 6 until stayed by the bankruptcy filing, is demanding $135 million; another wants $36.5 million. For more, see Ashbel S. Green, “Church bankruptcy and the courts”, Religion News Service/Salt Lake Tribune, Jul. 10.

Slower saint-making

“If canonization of Australia’s Mary MacKillop, who died in 1909, is taking a relatively long time, compared to that of Mother Teresa, six years dead, part of the reason is that Indians are less litigious.” Among legal fears that might slow down the process at various stages: “A doctor who treated an individual might be miffed by claims that the cure had no medical explanation. There is also privacy legislation, which might be referred to by relatives objecting to church investigators nosing into the departed one’s affairs. … According to Sister Maria Casey, who is handling the processing of Mother Mackillop, ‘it is not very easy these days because of threats of litigation'”. (Malcolm Brown, “Saint? Call the lawyers”, Melbourne Age, Oct. 27; longer version, Sydney Morning Herald) (& welcome Eugene Volokh readers; he says nice things about us)(& welcome Carnival of the Capitalists readers).

After the church settles, fees

“The $85 million settlement in the Boston clergy sex abuse scandal will set a record not only as the most expensive abuse settlement in the history of the Catholic Church, but also as the largest payday for lawyers who sued on behalf of abuse victims: an estimated $30 million in legal fees, lawyers said.” (Ralph Ranelli, Boston Globe, Sept. 11). Meanwhile, Forbes investigates the ties between abuse-survivor groups and the plaintiff’s lawyers that are often their chief financial supporters. For example, the biggest national claimant group, Survivors Network Abused by Priests, which played a pivotal role in getting the California legislature to reopen old statutes of limitations so as to permit the filing of decades-old claims, lists a Stockton, Calif. plaintiff’s lawyer with a large abuse-client roster as its biggest contributor. But not all survivors’ groups feel comfortable taking money from that source: “I would hate to be seen as a lead generator for plaintiff lawyers,” says Paul Baier, founder of the Boston group Survivors First, which refuses such donations. And attorney Mitchell Garabedian, prominent for his work on the plaintiff’s side in the Boston case, declines to donate money to the victim groups “because he believes the practice violates legal ethics guidelines. ‘It’s sort of a solicitation,’ he says.” (Daniel Lyons, “Paid to Picket”, Forbes, Sept. 15)(& welcome EthicalEsq? readers).