After $100M Settlement From Syracuse Diocese, CVA Attorneys Eye Insurance Reparations | New York Law Journal

Attorneys involved in the recent $100 million settlement from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, on behalf of hundreds of survivors of child sexual abuse who filed claims in the Diocese’s bankruptcy case, pledged to continue to target reparations from six insurance companies.

“That is something that we are continuing to negotiate—until we get an adequate number from the insurance companies,” attorney Cynthia LaFave of LaFave, Wein & Frament, who along with Jeff Anderson & Associates represent more than 120 survivors who submitted claims in the diocese’s bankruptcy case.

“Statewide, insurers have denied, delayed, and ducked their obligations,” said attorney Jeff Anderson. “It is yet another example of their nefarious strategies employed across the State of New York and the nation. We and the resilient survivors in Syracuse will continue the fight against the insurers.”

Still, the settlement represents the second largest contribution by a bankrupt Roman Catholic institution and its affiliates in any Roman Catholic bankruptcy case to date, attorneys said.

Anderson’s colleague, Taylor Stippel, said in a statement: “We are grateful to the survivors who stood up on behalf of themselves and countless other children to bring painful truths to light. Although the battle is not over, today’s settlement represents a significant step toward the accountability and justice that survivors in the Diocese of Syracuse deserve.”

The federally appointed Committee of Unsecured Creditors made decisions, negotiated and represented survivors in the bankruptcy case.

Jordan Merson and Merson Law, who represented the late vice chair of the committee before he passed, and still represents more than 20 survivors, said: “This settlement shows the commitment of sexual abuse survivors, especially this committee to stick together and that when the Diocese tries to work with victims, instead of against them, a consensual resolution can be reached.”

Lafave said the committee had four particular standouts who were active, came to all meetings, and were “incredibly caring, kind, decent people who were also sexually abused as children by some person who had to do with the Catholic entities.”

“They deserve a lot of credit because it’s very hard for them because of their background to go through this process, but they did it for everyone and it was terrific,” said Lafave, who added she was “very happy” with the result thus far.

Survivors and the Diocese continue to negotiate non-monetary terms of settlement, including strengthening of the Diocese’s child protection protocols as well as public release of documents pertaining to the Diocese’s sexually abusive personnel.

“I think that when the committee and the diocese have gotten the Child Protection protocols done and worked through that, it’s even going to be better because I found that working with the bishop and the people from this diocese, they were kind and compassionate through this process, which is not something that we see in all of these cases, and I give them a lot of credit for understanding how much they had to make reparation for and going forward to do that. It was refreshing, to say the least,” Lafave said.

The $100 million settlement includes contributions from the Diocese of Syracuse, its parishes and other affiliated entities.

The Diocese of Syracuse was the third Roman Catholic diocese in New York to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in response to numerous lawsuits filed under the New York Child Victims Act, attorneys said.

The diocese was represented by Bond Schoeneck and King, with attorneys Charles Sullivan and Steve Donato heavily involved in the case. Neither attorney returned requests for comment Monday.

Multiple other attorneys represented the diocese, parishes, and insurance companies.

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