Judge Haley Fromholz, Retiring This Week, Issues One Last Order to Stop Salesians from Holding up Entire LA Settlement

By Kay Ebeling
City of Angels
November 28, 2007

Judge Haley Fromholz retires this week and his last act in the Clergy Cases was to stop the Salesians from holding up all 500-plus payments in the $660 million settlement with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

In a hearing Tuesday afternoon in Fromholz' court, attorneys for Salesians Religious Order argued that the July settlement was illegal as it included payment to the 17 cases involving their religious order which are yet to be resolved, because the Salesians refused to settle.

In the courtroom yesterday it was Hennigan's firm for the Archdiocese on the defense against Steve McFeely and Robert Leventhal from Foley & Lardner for the Salesians. Several plaintiff attorneys were in the viewing area, occasionally jumping up to join the fray in front of the judge.

Tony DeMarco, plaintiff liaison, explained: the archdiocese is guaranteeing payment of the 17 Salesian cases "but plaintiffs are still obliged" to go forward pursuing their case against the religious order. The settlement as it is written is "a guarantee of payment by the archdiocese." He added that the checks will go out to all the LA plaintiffs soon after December 1st.

The Salesians can better understand by watching more daytime TV. You know, like the commercials for pre-settlement loans, the archdiocese is saying: "If, and only if, you are successful with your case will you be required to repay ---. If you lose your case, you would owe us nothing!"

Judge Fromholz issued a 15-page tentative order, for one last time taking apart an already specious argument put forth by a church attorney. The Salesians continue a marathon of motions to obstruct progress toward the jury trial for their 17 cases, which was supposed to begin November 5.

City of Angels predicts the Salesians cases jury trial will just be beginning two years from now November 5, 2009, and McFeely will lose 20 more pounds from all that tap dancing.

Goodbye, Judge Fromholz, enjoy your retirement, and thank you for all your hard work.

My favorite part of Judge Haley Fromholz' November 27 order was on Page 3:

"Further complicating matters is the fact that the Salesians 'overlooked' an email containing the revised agreement, and consequently did not address the revised agreement in their opposition brief."

Judge Fromholz writes on Page 1 of the November 27 tentative:

"The Settlement Agreement provides that the Archbishop will make a payment of $504 million by December 1, 2007, a second payment of $28 million by March 25, 2008, and a potential third payment of $128 million five years after the effective date of the Agreement.

"This third payment is to be reduced by the amount received by the plaintiffs from non-settling defendants."

So there really was no need for the hearing yesterday.

That didn't stop Robert Leventhal for the Salesians from saying, "The Salesians should be captains of their ship." He stood up and declared that at least seven times. "The archdiocese is captain of its ship and is allowed to settle for whatever amount it wants to pay. Just like they are captains of their own ship, the Salesians likewise should be captains of their ship."

Leventhal went on a good 15 minutes saying:

The archdiocese has no right to seek comparative indemnity for amounts it paid for several claims

It has no right to impede the Salesians' ability to settle its own claims

There are No joint interests

The settlement agreement violates law and public policy

The archdiocese has no right to decide the amount of claims against Salesians.

Most of the time Leventhal slipped into a babble of corporate insurance gobbled language:

Can't agree to third party ownership of claims with several indemnity, claims to right damages not subject to assignment under California law -- claims with several liabilities not intended for joint liability claims -- blah-blah-blah insurance liability indemnity co-joint -- several indemnity claims to right damages not subject to assignment under California law

Such is the state of corporate religion in America today.

More from Leventhal after this:

Leventhal went so far as to say:

"The plaintiffs are serving as the archdiocese's front man and we need to be able to have meaningful face-to-face negotiations with them without the archdiocese being involved.

"And we should be the captain of our ship --

Before the hearing could begin there was a good hour of argument whether they should even be there in the first place. Since the Salesian jury trial was transferred earlier this month to the courtroom of Judge Emilie H. Elias which is in a whole different part of town, there was some confusion. Just as I walked in Steve McFeely was chiming out, "I want to be clear, judge, I'm talking about the meetings with Judge Elias and liaison council, we weren't even there."

Judge Haley Fromholz: The result wouldn't have been any different. Judge Elias didn't feel she was in a position to hear the motion and wouldn't be for a reasonable time. So the chief justice restored the cases to me through the 27th.

Goodbye, Judge Fromholz, and it's been a pleasure watching you work.

Cards can be mailed to:

Judge Haley Fromholz,

LA Superior Court Department 20

111 North Hill Street

Los Angeles, CA 90012

Fromholz' 15-page tentative will most likely be his last Order in the Clergy Cases I, II, and III. Now the dog and pony show that is Steve McFeely and Robert Leventhal from Foley & Lardner defending the Salesians against those pesky 17 plaintiffs moves to Dept. 308, Central Civil West Courthouse, 600 South Commonwealth Ave., Los Angeles, Judge Emilie H. Elias and no one knows where the documents will be located for public viewing.

But in civil cases the documents are open to the public.

The CCW Courthouse is the one just off Wilshire near Lafayette Park. City of Angels is studying the Metro schedule and will be there next week.

Gotta go back to my other job now

More to Come. . .


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