July 23, 2005

Judge certifies all Catholics in western Oregon as defendants in abuse suit

PORTLAND (OR)
Canton Repository

By JULIA SILVERMAN Associated Press Writer
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) A federal bankruptcy judge on Friday joined together an estimated 389,000 Roman Catholic parishioners in western Oregon as defendants in a massive lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by priests.

The action by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth Perris is unusual because typically plaintiffs, not defendants, organize as a class in civil cases.

But in this instance, lawyers for members of 124 parishes will argue that parishioners not the archdiocese own $600 million in church assets and property. If their argument succeeds, it would make the assets off-limits to plaintiffs.

More than 240 abuse claims are pending against the Archdiocese of Portland, seeking at least $400 million in damages. More than 100 cases have been settled, while others are headed to mediation.

Posted by kshaw at July 23, 2005 07:11 AM