Livingston County News [Geneseo NY]
July 24, 2023
By Ben Beagle
2 insurance companies to agree to pay $50.75 million
Sexual abuse survivors in the Diocese of Rochester’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case have reached a settlement with two insurance companies totaling $50.75 million, an attorney for the survivors announced Friday.
The settlement is with the Interstate and First State insurance companies, according to attorney Jeff Anderson, whose firm has been involved in lawsuits against the diocese.
The settlement still needs court approval and be voted on by the survivors.
The Diocese had filed for bankruptcy protection in 2019 after 475 survivors brought lawsuits against the Diocese under the New York Children Victims Act. Rochester was the first to declare bankruptcy as a result of potential claims against it from victims.
The Diocese includes Livingston County, where some victims have filed claims.
Previously, survivors had reached a $75.6 million settlement from the Diocese and another insurer, LMI.
The three settlements total $126.35 million, including a $55 million payment from the Diocese of Rochester and its parishes, a $20.6 million settlement with insurers LMI and LMI Underwriters, a $50 million settlement with Interstate, and a $750,000 settlement with First State.
Anderson said the settlement also includes the ability to litigate against the remaining insurance company which has not settled, Continental Insurance Company.
“This is a real measure of accountability, but partial,” said Anderson. “It is happening because the survivors have stood strong, have stood united, and have been a force for the protection of others and the rigorous pursuit of justice.
“We’ll continue this struggle and this journey through the righteous conclusion,” Anderson said.
Attorney Steve Boyd said in a news release that the proposed settlement will permit survivors to directly pursue Continental Insurance Company, which the news release said could potentially face hundreds of millions of dollars in exposure.
“These survivors have courageously stood up to the Diocese for accountability and will bravely do the same to this insurer,” said Boyd.
Anderson said that Continental “has refused to acknowledge the responsibilities they hold and do right by the survivors who were abused in the diocese they insured.”
“CNA’s action prove that they would rather have survivors continue to suffer than be accountable and abide by their obligations,” Anderson said.
The local diocese has made no comment on the settlement, which was announced July 21.
In November 2022, the Diocese of Rochester agreed to pay $55 million, with the victims or survivors able to pursue additional claims from insurance companies.
Bishop Salvatore Matano said following the November announcement that the restructuring support agreement “represents the fairest approach for the survivors and most viable path forward for the Diocese and its related Catholic entities to continue our shared mission of healing and reconciliation.”
“While I know my words may seem hollow, simply repeating a rehearsed apology, I renew with sincerity my deep apology to the survivors of sexual abuse,” Matano’s statement said.
In 2019, the Rochester diocese was the first Catholic diocese in the state to file for bankruptcy protection related to the dozens of lawsuits related to the alleged sexual abuse by clergy. Those claims happened after passage of the New York Child Victims Act, which gave victims the ability to bring cases involving abuse that used to be beyond the state’s statute of limitations.
Four other dioceses in New York have also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in response to lawsuits filed through the New York Child Victims Act. The others include the dioceses of Buffalo, Syracuse, Rockville Centre, Albany and Ogdensburg.