US: New court ruling may help older clergy abuse claims proceed - PressFrom - US

USNew court ruling may help older clergy abuse claims proceed

22:40  12 june  2019
22:40  12 june  2019 Source:

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A party being sued may use this form to file a claim against someone that is not currently in the lawsuit but who may be responsible for any court judgment. If you won a judgment in Small Claims Court the following forms may help you collect your judgment.

The defendant may not claim more than the jurisdictional limit. That limit is set by the Legislature in Utah Code Appealing a Small Claims Judgment. Justice Court to District Court . The parties present the evidence again, including any new evidence. The decision after the trial de novo is final

New court ruling may help older clergy abuse claims proceed© Matt Rourke/AP Photos Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks during a news conference at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., Tuesday, Aug. 14, 2018. A Pennsylvania grand jury says its investigation of clergy sexual abuse identified more than 1,000 child victims. The grand jury report released Tuesday says that number comes from records in six Roman Catholic dioceses. The people seated were some of those affected by the clergy abuse. HARRISBURG, Pa. — A Pennsylvania court has ruled that an evolving legal landscape means a woman can pursue her lawsuit claiming officials in the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese worked to conceal her alleged molestation by a priest.

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A three-judge Superior Court panel Tuesday reinstated Renee Rice's lawsuit alleging the diocese and two bishops illegally tried to cover it up to protect their reputations and that of the parish priest she claims abused her.

The lawsuit was dismissed by a county judge in 2017 because the statute of limitations had expired. But the appellate court judges say Rice can try to persuade a jury that church officials' silence about the priest amounted to fraudulent concealment.

The Rev. Charles Bodziak has denied Rice's claims he abused her while at St. Leo's Church in Altoona about 40 years ago. The defendants are the diocese, retired Bishop Joseph Adamec and the estate of deceased Bishop James Hogan.

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The clergy -penitent privilege is one of the oldest and most well-recognized privileges in the United States. The Louisiana Supreme Court reversed the court of appeal and reinstated the trial court ’s order. First, the court addressed the language of the relevant statute, which provides, in pertinent part

This is known as making a court claim . It often used to be known as taking someone to a ‘small claims court ’. A mediation service could be quicker and cheaper than going to court . Mediation is when an impartial person helps both sides work out an agreement.

A diocesan spokesman declined comment Wednesday. Its lawyer, Eric Anderson, said the ruling was being reviewed and the diocese hasn't decided whether to appeal.

The case was filed shortly after Rice read a 2016 grand jury report into sexual abuse of children by priests in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese. The AP typically doesn't name people who say they are sexual assault victims unless they want to be identified, Rice's attorney, Richard Serbin, said she wants to be identified.

Bodziak was the subject of an allegation in the 2016 grand jury report.

The defendants can ask to reargue before a larger Superior Court panel, request that the state Supreme Court take it up, or do nothing and let it return to Blair County Common Pleas Court.

The decision comes less than a year after a separate grand jury report into six other Pennsylvania dioceses found more than 300 priests abused children over seven decades.

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The court may schedule an initial pretrial conference and also order the parties to mediation to resolve problems. Defendants may file counterclaims, set-offs, or The forms that may be required for a small claims case may vary from county to county. For the most accurate information regarding the forms

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The 2016 and 2018 grand jury reports have launched a battle in Pennsylvania's Republican-controlled Legislature to give one-time childhood victims of sexual abuse a new legal window to sue their perpetrators and institutions that may have covered it up.

Pennsylvania dioceses are currently evaluating claims and making payments under compensation funds set up after last year's grand jury report.

Serbin said Wednesday the new decision could help some people with clergy child sexual abuse claims pursue lawsuits, those who can argue the 2018 grand jury report was the first they learned church officials were complicit in covering up abuse.

"I think it's going to put some pressure on the administrators of these compensation funds to make sure the awards are sufficient. Because now there's an opportunity for some of these people to go forward with a civil claim," Serbin said.

Superior Court cited a 2018 state Supreme Court decision that it's a jury's prerogative to decide if a plaintiff did enough to investigate a defendant and therefore overcome the statute of limitations.

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There are also 2 court forms that can help you understand service in your small claims case and make sure you follow the right steps. If the judge agrees to postpone your court date, you will get a new court date to give you time to serve everyone properly with your Planitiff's Claim .

The rules on appealing small claims court decisions are complicated and vary widely. Unlike small claims court itself, where rules and procedures are remarkably the same throughout the United States, the rules that cover appeals from small claims court judgments vary greatly from one state to the next.

The diocese may have "induced" Rice "to relax her vigilance or to deviate from her right of inquiry" by not disclosing what she claims is information in a secret archive about Bodziak's history of child molestation or efforts to cover it up, wrote Judge Deborah Kunselman.

The lawsuit claims the bishops and diocese knew or should have known Bodziak molested girls when they assigned him to St. Leo's.

Bodziak asked Rice's parents if she could clean his home, where he gave her wine and molested her between the ages of 9 and 14, ending in 1981, the lawsuit alleges. She also claims he gave her a key to the church, ostensibly so she could practice singing and playing the organ, and molested her in the choir loft. Abuse also took place in his car and a cemetery, she claims.

She is asserting a "confidential relationship" based on her work cleaning and performing music, as well as her age, Catholic schooling and "the trust she placed in the diocesan defendants to guide and protect her," Kunselman wrote.

"The diocesan defendants purportedly violated their corresponding fiduciary duty to warn her about Father Bodziak's past as a child predator," Kunselman wrote. "They thereby placed their own reputation and finances ahead of her safety and mental health.

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