Clergy Sex Abuse Plaintiff Objects to Lawyers" Request for Higher Fees

By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert
Pacific Daily News
July 9, 2019

The Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagatna is shown in this file photo. (Photo: PDN file photo)

A man who filed a May 2017 lawsuit alleging that a Talofofo priest sexually abused him more than 50 times in the 1980s is objecting to his lawyers' request for higher attorney fees.

His lawyers obtained in 2018 a confidential settlement agreement with the religious order, Capuchin Franciscans, on his behalf.

The work is not done yet as the plaintiff, identified in court documents only as N.Q. to protect his privacy still has claims against the Archdiocese of Agana through the bankruptcy process.

N.Q. is represented by three sets of lawyers or law firms: Guam-based attorney Anthony C. Perez, Idaho-based James, Vernon and Weeks, and Honolulu-based Rosenberg McKay Hoffman.

Counsels would continue to work on N.Q.'s behalf in the bankruptcy context to secure additional payments as damages for the abuse he has suffered, Perez said in a June 25 filing in federal court.

Guam law provides maximum limits of attorney fees in an action involving personal injury or death. It also allows counsels to apply to the court, with written notice to the client, for an increase in the fee if attorneys consider that the contingent fee within maximum limits to be insufficient.

Perez asked the U.S. District Court to find that attorneys' fees of 1/3 of the net settlement amount "is reasonable" in this matter.

The case, he said, has been ongoing since May 2017 and has involved extensive work.

Counsels in the case fronted all costs and expenses, and bore all risks related to the litigation, Perez said.

"It is through the hardwork, skill and expertise of N.Q.'s lawyers that the case against the Capuchins has been resolved to the satisfaction of N.Q.," Perez told the court.

The specific terms of the settlement are confidential, and the only information that may be released is that a settlement has occurred to the mutual satisfaction of both parties, Perez said.

James, Vernon and Weeks has recovered upwards of $100 million on behalf of sexual abuse victims across the nation, while Rosenberg McKay Hoffman also represents sexual abuse victims throughout Hawaii.

Perez said N.Q. verbally told him that he objects to the increase in attorney fees, and also sent him a June 11 email identifying his written objection to the increase in attorney fees beyond that prescribed by Guam law.

N.Q., according to Perez, will be provided the filings related to the application for attorney fees and will further be provided written notice of any hearing date on said application.

In his 2017 lawsuit amended in 2018, N.Q. alleged that between 1985 and 1988, then-priest Andrew Mannetta sexually assaulted him in the rectory adjacent to the San Miguel Catholic Church in Talofofo.

"Overall, plaintiff was sexually abused more than 50 times by Father Andy," the lawsuit says.

Month before deadline

Anyone with claims against the Archdiocese of Agana, including those sexually abused by members of the Guam clergy, have until Aug. 15 to file those claims, under the archdiocese's bankruptcy process.

The archdiocese sought bankruptcy protection in January to be able to settle more than 200 clergy sex abuse claims and the number has since increased to more than 220.

Among the latest lawsuits was filed last week by a plaintiff identified in court documents only as K.L. to protect his privacy.

K.L., now 56, said in his lawsuit that as a child, he saw Father Louis Brouillard sexually molesting other boys when the priest's hands were underwater during Boy Scouts of America outings at the Lonfit River.

K.L. said Brouillard grabbed his private parts and would not let go of him until he was able to pull away from the priest. He said in his lawsuit that he left the water and stayed on the shore.

He said Brouillard also would walk around naked in his private room at the Barrigada church.

K.L., represented by attorney Michael Berman, said in his lawsuit that Brouillard sexually abused him on church grounds and during Boy Scouts of America outings in or around 1975 to 1975 when he was about 13 to 14 years old.

The lawsuit, which demands $5 million in minimum damages, names the Capuchins, Boy Scouts of America and up to 50 others as defendants.

Reporter Haidee Eugenio Gilbert covers Guam's Catholic church issues, government, business and more. Follow her on Twitter @haidee_eugenio.








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