Clergy Abuse Lawsuit Signed Cases
Adults who were sexually abused as children by religious leaders are filing lawsuits against those who inflicted their suffering and the hierarchy that enabled it. Legal actions, many aided by state laws extending the statute of limitations or creating exemptions to them, have resulted in billions of dollars of settlements and verdicts. Religious organizations are being sued not just for compensation, but to expose the evil that’s been committed. If your law firm is interested in clergy abuse litigation, ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing, Inc., can help you attract the clients you need.
The AP found this wave of legal claims may be greater than what’s gone before. It estimates there may be more than 5,000 new cases and payouts of more than $4 billion just in New York, New Jersey, and California. Some dioceses will consider bankruptcy, creating victim compensation funds, and selling real estate to stay in operation.
Juries unsympathetic to the church could lead the way to billions in settlements and verdicts
The national average payout per child sex abuse case since 2003 is about $350,000. The Catholic church averaged paying $1.3 million per case the last time California created a one-year window to new lawsuits in 2003. The potential range of total payouts in New York, New Jersey, and California alone could be $1.8 billion to $6 billion.
The church is facing a backlash driven by the #MeToo movement, press accounts, and investigations by law enforcement. Attorneys general in nearly 20 states have ongoing investigations.
One plaintiffs’ attorney noted the public is disgusted by the abuse of children and active cover-ups by the Catholic church hierarchy. If cases go to trial, successful plaintiffs may see substantial awards that will drive up settlement values. Los Angeles attorney Paul Mones was quoted as saying. “If anyone starts trying these cases, the numbers could become astronomical.”
New York opened its one-year window allowing sexual abuse suits with no statute of limitations in 2018. During the first day claims could be filed more than 400 cases against the church and other institutions were brought to the state’s courthouses. By late 2019 the number was more than a thousand.
Thousands of victims, thousands of abusers
Firms with established sex abuse practices told the AP they have hundreds of new clients. One attorney remarked, “A trickle becomes a stream becomes a flood…We’re sort of at the flood stage right now.” Another stated that from more than 3,000 calls his firm has received, 300 people have become clients and there may be another 200 coming this year.
There is no lack of perpetrators. The Catholic church has admitted that there are 5,173 priests, lay persons, and other clergy that were “credibly accused” of abuse. The attorneys interviewed stated clients aren’t in it for the money, one staying, “They want to have a voice. They want to help other people and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
In response to lawsuits, some dioceses have set up compensation funds to settle claims. Others may seek bankruptcy protection. The Archdiocese of New York went on the offensive in 2019, suing 31 of its insurers to try to require them to cover the next round of abuse litigation.
Another, much deeper pocket to help cover claims may be the Vatican. Five plaintiffs alleging priests sexually abused them as minors filed suit in Minnesota last year. They claim the Catholic church’s highest levels bear some of the responsibility. A lawsuit filed in Buffalo accused the Vatican of racketeering.
How ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing, Inc., can help your clergy abuse litigation practice grow
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