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Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Class Action?

In a class action, one or more person(s), called the class representative(s), sue on behalf of a group of people who have similar claims and are known as the class members. A court then resolves the issues, through trial or settlement, for all class members, except for those who have properly excluded themselves from the class. The people who bring the lawsuit are called plaintiffs and those they sue are called defendants. In this case, the plaintiffs are known by pseudonyms such as “John Doe” for privacy reasons. The Defendants are the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington, Kentucky and its Bishop
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What is the Lawsuit About?

laintiffs allege that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington, Kentucky has engaged in a policy, pattern, or practice of:

  • Concealing acts of sexual abuse by its priests and employees, and

  • Negligently supervising its priests and employees.

The Plaintiffs allege that Members of the Class were sexually abused by a priest or member of a religious order assigned to or employed by the Diocese. They claim that the Diocese was negligent, was grossly negligent, and is liable for punitive conduct. The Diocese generally denies these allegations. The Diocese further states that some or all of Plaintiffs’ claims are barred by the statute of limitations.

On October 21, 2003, the Court ruled that this case would proceed as a class action. On July 20, 2005, the Court preliminarily approved the Settlement. The Court will hold a Fairness Hearing on January 9, 2006 to make a final decision as to whether the Settlement is fair.

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Who Is a Class Member?

Prior to the Settlement, the Court certified a Class defined as follows:

All persons who, while still minors at any time during the period January 1, 1956 through the present, were subjected to acts of sexual abuse and sexual misconduct by priests or members of religious orders who, at the time of such abuse or misconduct, were assigned to or employed by the Diocese of Covington.

In connection with the Settlement, on July 20, 2005, the Court expanded the Class so that the Class now includes:

All persons who, while still minors at any time prior to October 21, 2003, were subjected to acts of sexual abuse and sexual misconduct by priests or other persons, who, at the time of such abuse or misconduct, were assigned to or employed by the Diocese of Covington or any of its parishes or institutions.

he geographical area of the alleged conduct covers the area of the Diocese of Covington as it existed during at least part of the Class Period and includes the following counties:

1. Bath
2. Bell
3. Boone
4. Bourbon
5. Boyd
6. Bracken
7. Breathitt
8. Campbell
9. Carroll
10. Carter
11. Clark
12. Clay
13. Elliot
14. Estill
15. Fayette
16. Fleming
17. Floyd
18. Franklin
19. Gallatin
20. Garrard
21. Grant
22. Greenup
23. Harlan
24. Harrison
25. Jackson
26. Jessamine
27. Johnson
28. Kenton
29. Knott
30. Knox
31. Laurel
32. Lawrence
33. Lee
34. Leslie
35. Letcher
36. Lewis
37. Madison
38. Magoffin
39. Martin
40. Mason
41. Menifee
42. Montgomery
43. Morgan
44. Nicholas
45. Owen
46. Owsley
47. Pendleton
48. Perry
49. Pike
50. Powell
51. Robertson
52. Rockcastle
53. Rowan
54. Scott
55. Whitley
56. Wolfe
57. Woodford

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What Does the Settlement Provide?

The Plaintiffs have reached a Settlement agreement with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington, Kentucky under which the Diocese will advance $40 million from its assets into a Settlement Fund. The Diocese and Class Counsel pursued a claim against the Diocese's insurance carriers in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, at Covington, which resulted in the insurers paying an additional $44 million into the settlement fund. Two escrow accounts, the Doe Class Settlement Fund Escrow Account and the CM (Catholic Mutual Insurance) Escrow Account have been established at U.S. Bank, N.A., a national banking corporation. The Doe Class Settlement Fund Escrow Account was funded with $44 million in cash and the CM Escrow Fund was funded with $15 million in case and $25 million in Senior Unsubordinated Notes. These escrow funds earn tax-free interest from April 2006 forward. The Diocese’s claim against the insurance carriers is still pending and the outcome has not yet been determined.

The Parties have agreed upon four categories of injury and specified the range of compensation to be paid in each category.

The Settlement Fund will provide payments to claimants from the Diocese’s $40 million advance and from monies obtained from the Diocese’s claim against its insurance companies. The maximum amount of monies in the Settlement Fund is $84 million, plus earned interest.

The amount of the actual payments to a particular claimant will depend on (1) the total amount of the Settlement Fund, (2) the number and nature of the total claims submitted, and (3) the nature and extent of the individual claimant’s injury.

The Settlement Fund also provides for potential recovery through a Counseling Fund, a Fund for Extraordinary Injuries, and a Fund for Minors.

If any funds remain unused after all claims and expenses are paid in full, the remaining funds will be returned to the Diocese or its insurers.

Under the agreement, there will be no injunctive relief
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What Type of Behavior is Considered "Sexual Abuse"?

"Sexual abuse" includes a variety of sexual conduct ranging from sexual comments, stalking, staring at a naked child and fondling to any type of sexual act.
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How Do I Participate?

If you think you are a member of the Class and want to make a claim, you must complete and return the Confidential Census Form no later than November 10, 2005 in order to receive a claim form and be eligible to apply to receive an award. The Confidential Census Form may be downloaded here.

You must return the Confidential Census Form no later than November 10, 2005 to Class Counsel:

Stanley M. Chesley amd Robert A. Steinberg
Waite, Schneider, Bayless & Chesley Co., L.P.A.
1513 Fourth & Vine Tower, One West Fourth Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Toll-free 1-888-609-4826

The Court has ordered the parties to keep the identity of Class Members confidential to the extent reasonably possible. Names of Class Members are not currently a matter of public record.

Do I Have a Right to Exclude Myself?

The time period for excluding a person from this case has passed.
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How Do I Comment On or Object to the Settlement?

The time period for comments or objections has passed.
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Do I Need My Own Attorney?

As a Class Member, you are represented by Class Counsel. However, you may hire your own attorney at your own expense.
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Who Are Class Counsel?

Class Counsel are the attorneys who represent the Plaintiffs and the Class Members in a class action case. In this case, Class Counsel sponsor this website. Waite, Schneider, Bayless, and Chesley Co., LPA., 1513 Fourth and Vine Tower, One West Fourth Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202, toll-free 1-888-609-4826, is a firm that has long specialized in class action litigation. Information about this firm may be found on the internet at http://www.wsbclaw.com. Stanley Chesley and Robert Steinberg are the attorneys from this firm representing the Class. In addition, Michael O’Hara of O’Hara, Ruberg, Taylor, Sloan & Sergent, 25 Crestview Hills Mall Road, Suite 201, P.O. Box 17411, Covington, Kentucky 41017-0411, (859) 331-2000, is a Class Counsel. Mr. O’Hara successfully tried the first major sexual abuse case against the Covington Diocese, Secter v. Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington, in the early 1990’s. Mr. O’Hara also has substantial experience in class action litigation. Ann Oldfather, of Oldfather & Morris, 1330 S. Third St., Louisville, Ky. 40208, is also a Class Counsel. Ms. Oldfather successfully prosecuted and settled a case against the Archdiocese of Louisville, Ky., in which she represented a large number of sexual abuse victims.
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Who Will Pay Class Counsel?

The Court must approve the amount to be awarded to Class Counsel for attorneys’ fees and reasonable expenses. Class Counsel have agreed that their request for fees will not exceed 30% of the Settlement Sum. Class Counsel also will request a separate reimbursement for reasonable expenses advanced on behalf of the Class.
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When Will the Court Decide to Approve or Not Approve the Settlement?

The Court granted final approval of the Settlement on January 31, 2006. The Court issued its order awarding attorneys' fees and expenses on May 22, 2006.
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