November 09, 2005

Church Insurers Suit Is Put on Hold

Los Angeles Times

By Jean Guccione, Times Staff Writer

A Los Angeles judge Tuesday put on hold a lawsuit filed by the church's insurers accusing Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of withholding information about claims that the archdiocese failed to protect children from sexually abusive priests.

Four of the 15 insurers — Employers Reinsurance Corp. and three members of American International Group Inc. — Insurance Co. of the State of Pennsylvania, Granite State Insurance Co. and American Home Assurance Co. — had sued to obtain documents that they said could show that the archdiocese had forfeited its insurance coverage by covering up for child molestation by clergy.

The companies also said they needed the documents — including the archdiocese's assessment of the strength of the cases, and its analysis of its potential liability — to decide whether settlement demands from the alleged victims were reasonable.

But Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Haley J. Fromholz said that forcing the issue would "prejudice the archbishop" and delay three-year efforts to settle more than 500 sex-abuse suits against the Los Angeles Archdiocese.

In two lengthy opinions, the judge said there was no evidence that the archbishop had withheld information inappropriately.

Posted by kshaw at November 9, 2005 10:50 AM