Wednesday, February 28, 2007

...and San Diego Makes Five

SoCal diocese takes the plunge, files for bankruptcy:
San Diego Bishop Robert Brom said in a statement that money offered by the diocese “would have stretched our financial capability to the limit, but demands were made which exceeded the financial resources of both the diocese and our insurance carrier.”

Micheal Webb, lead diocese attorney, said the diocese's offer represented the largest any diocese has ever made to settle clergy-abuse suits, “in terms of absolute dollars.”

Attorneys representing the plaintiffs, however, strongly disputed that statement.

Settlements in California have been in the range of $1.1 million to about $1.6 million per case, plaintiffs' attorneys said. The diocese's offer was “substantially” less than that, said one source close to the negotiations.

Irwin Zalkin, a Del Mar attorney who represents about 30 percent of the San Diego plaintiffs, issued this response to Brom's decision on Tuesday afternoon:

“Bishop Brom implies that the victims' demands were too great and would put the diocese at financial risk. Bishop Brom states that he must take into consideration that early trial verdicts could reduce the diocese ability to respond to later verdicts. No victim has ever intended to place the Diocese at risk of a bankruptcy. On the contrary, the victims have been willing to work with the judge to set values and work out a plan for settlement that would be well within the means of this Diocese and its insurance company.”...

Claims from the 150 or so allegations of sexual abuse involving 60 priests and dating to the 1950s could top $200 million, according to the plaintiffs.
Prior background here and here.