Doe v. Diocese of Covington Class Action Settlement Concluded

Waite, Schneider, Bayless & Chesley
June 2009

Stanley M. Chesley and Robert A. Steinberg of Waite, Schneider, Bayless & Chesley are Lead Counsel for the class in this state court action and in a companion case in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky against Catholic Mutual Insurance Company. The Final Hearing in this unique case took place on May 28, 2009. This is the only case in the United States where a class action was certified involving allegations that a Catholic Diocese engaged in a practice of ignoring and allowing sexual abuse of minors by priests and others affiliated with the Diocese. Hundreds of claims covered a time period from 1948 through 2003.

The class settlement approved by the court included contributions from the Diocese and its two insurers, which ultimately totaled more than $90 million. Awards were determined by two Special Masters: a former Chief Federal Judge with extensive experience in class action litigation, and the Chairman of E.W. Scripps Co., who was also a member of the National Review Board of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and authored a national report on the Crisis in the Catholic Church in the United States.

A due process settlement appeal system was established with two levels of appeal. The Appeals Special Master, who had previously served as a U.S. District Court Judge, as Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, and as Chief Judge of the Military Court of Appeals. The final level of appeal was to the Boone Circuit Court. All funds awarded were paid. Class members received up to $1 million each in awards. An independent CPA firm performed periodic and final audits of all transactions in the case. Two separate funds remain in place. One fund provides payment for mental health expenses of any person who was sexually abused as a minor by an abuser affiliated with the Diocese, whether or not that person joined the class action case; and the second fund provides for awards to those born after October 1985. The latter fund remains in existence until 2015.


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