Judge approves 90-day stay on clergy sexual abuse lawsuits

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Developments in the clergy sexual abuse lawsuits have taken a backseat to the uncertainty over COVID-19 as District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood granted a request to extend the stay on the case for 90 days.

The stay, which will remain in effect until July 2, was initially requested by Delia Lujan-Wolff whose firm represents a large number of survivors. She asked for a 6c0-day stay stating: “Given the current situation with the virus and the fact that the Boy Scouts bankruptcy court issued a preliminary injunction preventing us from proceeding in our cases against certain co-defendants, I ask that the stay be extended for an additional 60 days.”

While there were no objections, the Capuchins’ legal counsel, Vince Camacho, requested that the stay be extended to 90 days rather than 60.

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Sharing the effects the shutdown has had on his client, Camacho said: “The Capuchins are and have requested offers from all remaining plaintiffs in order to settle. However, in light of what’s going on with the shutdown with regard to the churches and the parishes and the schools…cash flow with regard to at least the Capuchins have dwindled and the reserves are dwindling quickly.”

He says that for some of his cases, the plaintiffs are not covered by insurance and therefore they would like to proceed with mediation. “We need these 90 days to figure out where the stay at home orders or home quarantine orders are going,” he said.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been developments in the case.

Superior Court Magistrate Judge Jonathan Quan has been temporarily assigned to preside over the civil cases in local court until the investiture of the honorable Judge Michael Bordallo’s replacement. He made his first appearance this morning and was brought up to speed on the status of the cases.

To date, there are 245 civil cases filed in federal court and 15 civil cases remaining at the Superior Court. Some of those cases have reached a resolution as the mediation process continues.

Lujan-Wolff stated that negotiation settlements are active with the Capuchins and the Congregation of the Holy Cross.

There have also been discussions with mediators to negotiate the Sisters of Notre Dame cases.

And there was further talk of mediation in Hawaii with US Bankruptcy Judge Robert Faris being re-scheduled given the nationwide situation with COVID-19.

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