Memorandum of Understanding between the Steering Committee Representing Victims of Abuse
And the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston, a Corporation Sole
National Catholic Reporter
Downloaded September 11, 2003
On September 7, 2003, a mediation session was called by Paul A. Finn, Esq. (the "Chief Arbitrator") at which were present the members of the Steering Committee Representing Victims of Abuse (the "Steering Committee"), Archbishop Sean P. O’Malley, Father John J. Connolly, and counsel for the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston, a corporation sole ("RCAB"). As a result of those and further negotiations, the RCAB agreed to modify its offer in certain respects, and the members of the Steering Committee agreed to recommend that modified offer to other plaintiffs’ counsel. The principal terms of that modified settlement offer are set forth below.
Within seven days of the date of the execution of this Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU"), the parties will agree upon a form of "Uniform Arbitration and Settlement Agreement" to be signed by each of the Claimants electing to proceed under the provisions of this MOU and the RCAB. It is understood that this MOU will be replaced by a further writing which will embody the terms herein and will be executed by the duly authorized officer of the RCAB. The necessary approvals have been obtained by the RCAB to make the offer set forth below of up to $85 million in compensation and costs.
1. The RCAB agrees to pay up to $84,250,000 ("the Settlement Fund") to settle 552 claims arising out of alleged sexual abuse. Five hundred and twenty three of these claims involve alleged sexual abuse, and twenty nine involve alleged loss of consortium.
2. The names of the 552 Claimants are set forth in a list, which shall remain a confidential document in the possession of the RCAB. Attached as Exhibit "A" is a list of the Claimants’ counsel along with the number of Claimants represented by each counsel. Each of the Claimants’ counsel on Exhibit "A" shall receive from the RCAB a list of the names of the Claimants represented by them who are included in the 552 Claimants. Those Claimants, through their counsel, shall have 37 days after the date on which this MOU is signed to make a voluntary election to resolve their claims through binding arbitration with Commonwealth Mediation and Conciliation, Inc. ("CMCI"). It is understood that the RCAB shall not participate in the arbitrations, although non-legal representatives of the RCAB shall attend if requested by the Claimant.
3. Within thirty-seven (37) days of the date of execution of this MOU (the "opt-in" date), counsel for the respective Claimants shall inform the RCAB which Claimants ("the Arbitration Claimants") desire to have their claims resolved through arbitration and shall identify whether the claims arise either out of alleged sexual abuse or from loss of consortium. The Steering Committee understands that it is the hope of Archbishop O’Malley that all of the claims listed on Exhibit A will be resolved by this offer. However, any Claimant may decide not to opt into the settlement and to pursue his/her claim independently. For each of the Claimants opting out of the settlement, the Settlement Fund will be reduced by $20,000 if the claim is one for lost consortium, and by an amount equal to $83,670,000 divided by 523 (the number of sexual abuse claims) for all other Claimants. If more than 20% of the 552 Claimants opt out of the settlement, the RCAB still will proceed with the settlement, but only if it can reach agreement with the Steering Committee as to the method to be used to reduce the Settlement Fund to reflect the non-participation of those Claimants. Any such discussions will be mediated by Paul A. Finn, Esq. The full amount of the Settlement Fund, as reduced for Claimants not participating, shall be allocated in the manner described below.
4. Each Arbitration Claimant shall execute a copy of the Uniform Arbitration and Settlement Agreement in which he or she consents to binding arbitration. The Uniform Arbitration and Settlement Agreement will embody the substantive terms of this Memorandum of Understanding. The Uniform Arbitration and Settlement Agreement will also include a general release of any and all claims that the Arbitration Claimant now has or may have against any person or entity arising from abuse for which a claim has been asserted against the RCAB. Said release language will include, as to any act or acts of abuse which have formed the basis of a claim or suit against the RCAB or persons or entities employed by or affiliated with the RCAB, a general release of any and all claims that the Arbitration Claimant now has or may have, whether known or unknown, against the RCAB, the agents, servants, officers, employees, insurers, attorneys or other persons or entities employed by or affiliated with the RCAB, the individual perpetrator(s) accused of the alleged abuse, and any other person or entity whether or not affiliated with the RCAB. The Uniform Arbitration and Settlement Agreement will also include, as to any act or acts of abuse which have not heretofore formed the basis of a claim against the RCAB or persons or entities employed by or affiliated with the RCAB, but which act or acts are alleged in the pending claim or suit, a general release of any and all claims that the Arbitration Claimant now has or may have, whether known or unknown, against the RCAB and the agents, servants, officers, employees, insurers, attorneys, or other persons employed by or affiliated with the RCAB. The Uniform Arbitration and Settlement Agreement shall also contain typical provisions with respect to contribution protection in favor of the RCAB and persons or entities employed by or affiliated with the RCAB. There will also be other provisions typically contained in settlement agreements, including that the Agreement does not constitute an admission of liability but rather is a good faith resolution of disputed claims. Each signed Uniform Arbitration and Settlement Agreement will be delivered to Paul A. Finn at the time the Arbitration Claimant opts into the Settlement. Where applicable, the Arbitration Claimant will also execute and deliver to Paul A. Finn at the time the Claimant opts into the Settlement a Stipulation of Dismissal with prejudice of any pending legal action. Such Agreements and Stipulations are to be held by Paul A. Finn in escrow pending completion of the award process.
5. The criteria for sexual molestation claims shall include the type of abuse, its duration and the extent of injuries suffered by individual Arbitration Claimants. Liability issues such as negligence, statute of limitations, and charitable immunity will not be considered by the arbitrator. Further criteria shall be developed after consultation with the counsel for the Arbitration Claimants. Given that the arbitrations shall take place with a number of different arbitrators, Paul Finn, Esq., the President of CMCI ("the Chief Arbitrator") shall take appropriate steps to ensure consistency in the awards. A list of proposed arbitrators shall be submitted to the Steering Committee for approval. Each award for a sexual abuse claim shall be no higher than $300,000 and no less than $80,000. However, the minimum shall not be applicable if the arbitrator in consultation with the Chief Arbitrator determines that the application of the minimum would create a substantial injustice. Consortium claims shall receive an award of $20,000 upon submission of proof in a form to be negotiated with the Chief Arbitrator and the Committee.
6. As soon as practicable, CMCI shall establish a panel of arbitrators for those who desire to participate in the arbitration process. The arbitrations may start before the final opt-in date but not until the terms of the Uniform Arbitration and Settlement Agreement have been agreed upon. The format of the arbitrations shall be left to the future negotiations after input from the Steering Committee, but it is the intent of the parties that the arbitrations shall not require personal testimony or forensic reports (although such evidence may be presented). The RCAB shall pay for one-half of CMCI’s costs of administering and conducting the arbitration process (which costs will include the fees of the arbitrators). Each Arbitration Claimant will bear his/her own costs for forensic testimony, if such is offered.
7. By November 15, 2003, any lawyer or law firm listed on Exhibit A representing an Arbitration Claimant and that has incurred out-of-pocket costs relating to the procurement of testimony concerning general liability issues, such as alleged supervisory negligence or other issues that are not unique to a particular Claimant’s claim, may present a statement of costs to Paul A. Finn. Such costs must have been incurred in pending litigation that is the subject of this MOU, be reasonable and properly documented, and may include such costs as deposition transcripts, court transcripts, videographer costs, document reproduction or scanning. Expert reports concerning general liability issues (as opposed to expert reports concerning individual Claimants) may be included in such costs. The RCAB shall pay such costs, but the maximum total shall not exceed $750,000. The maximum amount of costs awarded under this paragraph shall be reduced proportionally by the percentage of Claimants who opt out of this Settlement. In the event that the submitted costs exceed the maximum set aside for costs, then the amount of costs awarded to each firm will be reduced on a pro rata basis by the Chief Arbitrator so that the total equals the maximum amount set aside for costs. If the costs to be awarded are less than the maximum amount set aside for costs, the difference between the actual costs and the maximum amount set aside for costs shall be added to the Settlement Fund for distribution to the Arbitration Claimants. Any dispute concerning costs shall be resolved by binding arbitration before the Chief Arbitrator. The fact that such costs have been paid by the RCAB is not admissible in any civil proceeding.
8. On or before December 20, 2003, CMCI shall issue arbitration awards as to all Arbitration Claimants, which awards shall be paid in full by the RCAB by December 22, 2003. All awards shall be announced simultaneously. The awards will be final and non-appealable. After receiving an award, Arbitration Claimants still shall be eligible to participate in the continued therapy and healing program offered by the RCAB.
9. The Steering Committee will meet with the Chief Arbitrator to determine whether an expedited process can be developed for the determination of certain claims.
1. The RCAB has two boards in place, the Archdiocesan Review Board and the Implementation and Oversight Committee. The RCAB is willing to add at least one additional survivor member to both of these boards. Additionally, the Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach is in the process of developing an Advisory Board. It is anticipated that this board will be largely comprised of survivors or the family members of survivors. The RCAB would welcome suggestions of potential candidates for this board. Among the items that might be considered by this Advisory Board would be the establishment of a resource library and the consideration of an appropriate memorial, living tribute, or remembrance.
2. Given that the harm suffered by many survivors and their families involves severe damage to their faith lives, the Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach shall continue to offer spiritual direction and spiritual counseling services. Specific programs, such as retreats, healing and reconciliation services, survivor and family of survivor spiritual support groups, and when appropriate or requested referral to ecumenical and/or interreligious, spiritual counselors will be among the services offered through the Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach.
3. The RCAB will take appropriate action to ensure that when survivors obtain assistance from the Office of Healing that information, including treatment updates, will remain confidential and not shared with the RCAB or its counsel.
4. This Memorandum Of Understanding shall be reported to the Suffolk Superior Court Session in which all civil actions stating claims against the RCAB or its agents, servants or officers have been specially assigned.
On behalf of Steering Committee Representing Victims of Abuse:
Alan L. Cantor
Carmen L. Durso
William H. Gordon
Roderick MacLeish, Jr.
Jeffrey A. Newman
Timothy P. O’Connell
Robert A. Sherman
On behalf of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston:
Thomas H. Hannigan, Jr.
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