Attorneys square off in jurisdictional battle in Archdiocese bankruptcy

WVUE Fox 8

August 20, 2020

By Rob Masson

Attorneys for alleged clergy sex abuse victims and the Archdiocese of New Orleans, squared off in federal bankruptcy court Thursday in a battle over who will decide damages.

Attorneys for alleged victims say the church is solvent and does not belong in bankruptcy court, but the Archdiocese says it’s not that easy.

Nearly four months after the Archdiocese of New Orleans filed for bankruptcy, attorneys for dozens of alleged victims went before a federal bankruptcy judge asking that the entire matter be removed from her court.

“The plaintiffs want to get in-state court so that they can do discovery and fight over how much money and how many assets the church has and the church doesn’t want that to happen,” said Fox 8 legal analyst Joe Raspanti.

Attorneys for alleged victims produced documents showing that the Archdiocese of New Orleans has assets of around $520 million and is solvent. Because of that, they say there’s no justification for a bankruptcy filing which could hurt their clients’ cases.

“In bankruptcy court, it will be the decision of one judge. What the church is afraid of is a jury will feel sympathy which is understandable for these victims. That could give them a much larger award not to mention the discovery that they don’t want to happen,” said Raspanti.

Mark Mintz, the attorney for the archdiocese admitted that in spite of mounting costs the archdiocese is not insolvent and he said that the law doesn’t require insolvency for a bankruptcy action to be filed.

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