Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Milwaukee Catholic? Who's Your Attorney?

The Diocese of Portland has declared bankruptcy due to the burden of settlements in priest/homosexual/pedophilia cases. That was regarded as an interesting move.

But now, the Diocese has added a nuclear bomb. They have petitioned the Bankruptcy Court to add every registered Parish member in the Diocese as defendants in the bankruptcy.


This has implications. The Legal Beagles who read this blog (yes, at least one) may offer comments regarding the implications.


Terrence Berres said...

As I understand it, the Archdiocese is a "corporation sole" and the Archbishop is essentially a trustee. The Archdiocsese is saying the assets of each parish should be regarded as held for the benefit of its parishioners, not for the Archdiocese as a whole, and not subject to the claims of creditors of the Archdiocese. Since the parishioners' interests in the assets of their parishes are potentially affected by the outcome, the Archdiocese wants them joined as parties in the bankruptcy proceeding. This might be called "suing" them, but not in the sense that the Archdiocese is making a claim against them.

Wisconsin law is unusual in having each parish a separate corporation, which would simplify a similar argument if one of our dioceses goes bankrupt.

Bernard Brandt said...

On the other hand, while I suspect that the Archdiocese is taking the action so as to avoid liability of the corporation for the awards, there is the possibility of an unintended result, in that the Bankruptcy Court may go so far as to find the individual parishioners personally liable for the religious corporation's actions or inactions in the civil trials. At more than $1,000.00 per head, this could be a problem.