March 17, 2005

Pa. dioceses seek dismissal of suits

Centre Daily Times

The Associated Press

By David B. Caruso

PHILADELPHIA -- Lawyers for Roman Catholic dioceses across the state said they intend to ask judges to dismiss dozens of lawsuits filed by people who say they were sexually abused by priests many years ago.

The move follows a ruling by a panel of Superior Court judges on Monday that Pennsylvania's two-year statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits generally prohibits people allegedly molested by clergy decades ago from suing now, so many years later.

The ruling applied only to claims filed by 18 plaintiffs against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, but lawyers for the church said they thought it set out a standard that will apply to most of the suits pending against church officials throughout the state.

"We think that the Superior Court got it right," said William Pietragallo II, a lawyer for the diocese of Pittsburgh, which faces more than 30 suits. "The statute of limitations is one of the fundamental tenets of Anglo-American jurisprudence, and the court has recognized that."

Posted by kshaw at March 17, 2005 07:58 AM