Judge rules Milwaukee archdiocese must pay $1.35 million in legal fees

National Catholic Reporter

Marie Rohde | Jul. 31, 2014

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Susan V. Kelley on Wednesday ordered the Milwaukee archdiocese to use $1.35 million in surplus cash to partially pay legal and profession fees that have been accruing over the past 17 months.

The archdiocese must pay lawyers representing the creditors in the case, most of whom are survivors of sexual abuse, as well their own legal experts. So far, the archdiocese has amassed close to $14 million in legal fees since the Chapter 11 bankruptcy was filed in January 2011.

While the mounting legal bills are a matter of concern to Kelley, a quick end is not in sight. Eight lawyers were in court and four others attended via a telephone hookup for a two-hour hearing Wednesday, further driving up the bills.

The $1.35 million would probably result in a payment of about 20 cents on the dollar, said lawyer James Stang, the lead lawyer for the creditors. Lawyers for the other side restated that everyone would be paid in full once a reorganization plan is approved, a notion that seems distant.

Kelley put the approval process for the archdiocesan-proposed reorganization plan on hold until the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals decides other issues, including whether some $57 million in a trust fund for the perpetual care of nine cemeteries could be used for claims. That decision is not expected until October.

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