by Goldy, 08/26/2005, 4:32 PM

Last December the Catholic Diocese of Spokane, WA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in an effort to shield itself from $80 million in sexual abuse liabilities, claiming it had only $10 million in assets under its direct control. Now it looks like parishioners are going to pay for Spokane Bishop William Skylstad’s shameful legal maneuvers.

A federal bankruptcy judge ruled today that all the parish churches, parochial schools and other property of the Catholic Diocese of Spokane can be liquidated to pay victims of sexual abuse by priests.

The decision, expected to have ramifications for dioceses across the nation, is a major defeat for Spokane Bishop William Skylstad, who had argued that he did not control individual parishes and thus they were not available to cover settlement costs.

“It is not a violation of the First Amendment to apply federal bankruptcy law to identify and define property of the bankruptcy estate even though the Chapter 11 debtor is a religious organization,” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Patricia Williams wrote in a 50-page decision.

“The disputed real property constitutes property of the estate,” she wrote.

Skylstad is the head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Had his bankruptcy ploy succeeded, other dioceses facing similar sexual abuse claims surely would have followed suit in an effort to deny victims their financial settlements. But with this court decision, Skylstad has only succeeded in putting the liquidation decisions into the hands of a federal judge — any and all of the 82 parish churches and 16 parochial schools in 13 Eastern WA counties may now be sold off to settle victims’ claims.

Once again it is Spokane’s parishioners who will pay the price for the Diocese’s arrogance and neglect, but this court decision sends an important message to bishops elsewhere that they must face their legal obligations squarely, rather than relying on clever lawyers to shield them from the consequences of past mistakes.

128 Responses to “Spokane Diocese bankruptcy backfires”

1. Nindid spews:

As a Catholic myself, it has been rather horrible to witness the whole set of issues arising from the child abuse.

For me, the unimaginable horror of a priest abusing his office, posiiton, and the trust of his flock by preying upon its must vunerable members is nearly matched by the the moral decay shown at the episcopol level.

The actions of Bishops Law and Skylstad in particular show ‘leaders’ who are more interested in protecting the financial interests of the bureaucracy then they are the people who make up the Church. I am shocked that both of them have received promotions within that bureaucracy even after their shameful actions came to light.

I just pray that those who profess to lead the Church can somehow find the moral courage needed to do what is right instead of what is expedient.

(Sorry for the rant – touchy subject…)

2. thomas spews:

and so the civil war continues, push and shove, secular and religious. I don’t have an answer, but I know alot of lawyers will be buying more vacation homes…am I the only one who is having trouble seeing the victims thru all the dollar signs…

3. Dan B spews:

Far out. A step in the right direction. Churches should be treated like any other for-profit organization.

4. Dan B spews:

@2: Victims? The catholic church’s fortune was built on victims!

5. marks spews:

Goldy,

I’m not sure I have a parallel here, but make an assumption anyway:

I am an employee. I park my car in the employee parking lot. My car gets hit, presumably by another employee. Is my company liable for damages?

Just a question…

6. Rick Schaut spews:

Marks,

An answer that might make the analogy a little more pertinent: If you’re a Microsoft employee, and the other Microsoft employee’s job is to drive one of the shuttles around campus, then, yes, your employer is liable.

Rick

7. Goldy spews:

marks @5,

The issue has always been negligence. Dioceses around the nation new about the abuse, covered it up, and merely transfered the abusers from one parish to another, where they abused more children. That’s why juries are awarding large damages.

See… a lot of people miss the whole point of civil awards like this. It is not simply to reimburse the victim for their suffering… one can’t really do that, can one. It is to deter such acts from being allowed in the future, and as a result of these lawsuits the Catholic church and other organizations are taking such abuse seriously, and handing accusations over to the proper authorities. The large awards are achieving a positive impact that could not have been achieved otherwise.

That is why liberals tend to oppose the kind of tort reform that Republicans want… large civil awards are necessary to keep corporations and other organizations honest.

8. RUFUS spews:

I just wish the donks would show as much concern about the rampant sexual abuse from our public school teachers. Its not suprising though, the donks will protect the public schools no matter how bad it gets.

9. Roger Rabbit spews:

@8

The only sexual abuse in public schools I know about are the cases in which teachers have been (a) fired, (b) prosecuted, (c) sent to jail, (d) stripped of their teaching credentials for life.

Do you know of some others?

10. marks spews:

Goldy @7

That is why liberals tend to oppose the kind of tort reform that Republicans want… large civil awards are necessary to keep corporations and other organizations honest.

To be honest, I agree with your asseveration on civil awards, yet I tend to disagree when it comes to ruination of a business. Who else will hire people to keep it going?

11. RUFUS spews:

Seattle times reported that there were many PE,health and others moved form district to district in the last 20 years because of sexual misconduct. Remember they had a news documentary. Where was the moral outrage?

12. RUFUS spews:

Here is a link for you Rabbit:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/news/local/coaches/news/union.html

You got to luv those donk unions.

13. RUFUS spews:

And the Seattle times is not Fox news… it is one of your propagandists.

14. zip spews:

Goldy

“The large awards are achieving a positive impact that could not have been achieved otherwise”.

What is the positive impact and why is it more positive at this award level than it would have been if the awards did not require selling off all of the Catholic schools? Are you saying that the punitive portion of the awards is a net positive BECAUSE the parishes have to close and sell the schools?

By the way, stating that this (undefined) positive impact could not have been achieved otherwise seems awfully smug even coming from you. Perhaps you should expand on this.

15. RUFUS spews:

Again, yes the church deserves what it is getting. But hell if you are a public school teacher when it comes to kids… pork away!

16. Goldy spews:

Zip @14,

I want to be absolutely clear that the positive impact I’m talking about is that the Catholic Church is finally dealing with its sex abuse problems responsibly, instead of just covering them up. I can’t say that never would have happened without the legal threat… but it didn’t.

And I also want to make it clear that the people that have filed suit represent only the tip of the iceberg… most of the victims have kept quiet for a variety of reasons.

17. RUFUS spews:

If only we could close down some of the public schools and give those kids a chance. Stop child abuse in our public schools now!

18. zip spews:

Right Goldy

But wouldn’t the church still be dealing with it if the punitive portion of the damge awards had been smaller?

19. Roer Rabbit spews:

Doofus @ 12

I won’t try to explain this to Doofus — he’s unteachable — but if the rest of you carefully read the article he linked to, you’ll see the Seattle Times wanted access to personnel files to see find teachers who’ve had complaints or accusations against them — not substantiated or proven cases, but any case in which a complaint was made or the teacher was accused.

A complaint or accusation is not guilt. I would fight this too, if I were the school district or the union representing the teachers. In fact, Doofus has unwittingly argued the case for why teachers need unions to protect them.

Relevant quotes from the article:

“Tyler Firkins, an Auburn lawyer, filed a lawsuit asking the court to stop the Bellevue, Federal Way and Seattle school districts from releasing the records of 36 teachers accused of sexual misconduct.”

“The Times’ lawyer, Michele Earl-Hubbard, argued that the public had a right to see all complaints, even those that were not pursued by officials or that did not result in a reprimand.”

That’s lawyerspeak for complaints that weren’t substantiated, provable, or were found invalid.

Make no mistake — there should be ZERO tolerance of teachers who engage in sexual interactions, however slight, with students. Teachers occupy a position of trust with the kids. If that trust is violated even once, they shouldn’t be allowed to teach.

But it’s not a one way street. How often do we hear conservatives wail about how teachers and school administrators aren’t allowed to control their classrooms or discipline unruly students? Well, guess what, kids are manipulative — and aren’t above making false allegations to get back at a teacher who gave them a deserved bad grade or didn’t tolerate disruptive or lawless behavior in the classroom or on the school grounds. That’s something I’d worry about all the time if I was a teacher. And if I thought the media could publicize false allegations against teachers — I wouldn’t teach. You couldn’t pay me enough to have my good name dragged through the mud, my marriage destroyed, and my family taunted and harassed because some vindictive kid “got even” because I reported her for smoking pot in the hallway.

The time to drag a teacher’s name through the mud is after he or she has been apprised of the accusation, allowed to defend himself or herself, the matter has been investigated, criminal charges have been filed, and a judge or jury has returned a guilty verdict. That’s the rule — innocent until proven guilty; and we don’t drag the innocent through the mud.

So, Doofus, here’s to the teacher’s union — and go fuck yourself!

20. RUFUS spews:

It is good to know that our kids are in such capablce hands with the donk teacher unions. All you parents can rest well at night.

21. Roger Rabbit spews:

And yes, I love the donks who steadfastly oppose witch hunting by right-wingers and other loonies.

22. Roger Rabbit spews:

I don’t rest well at night. I worry about what idiots like you might do to our schools and communities — witch hunting, book burning, teaching junk science, filling our kids’ heads with horse shit.

23. Roger Rabbit spews:

@13

The Seattle Times is a Republican newspaper run by a Republican publisher. If you don’t like the Times that’s fine with me!

24. Goldy spews:

Zip @18,

Again, apparently the Church did not deal with the problems until the large awards started coming down. I agree that it should not have taken this, but it did.

And this is not unique to the Church. Corporations will often gladly pay fines and settlements as a cost of doing business, rather than fix the problem that is causing the fines and lawsuits. It sometimes takes a really big damage award to get them to start doing the right thing. Once you cap awards, you take away this threat.

25. Roger Rabbit spews:

@14

The fact that sexual abuse went on unabated for 75 years indicates it took bankruptcy to get the Church’s attention. If that’s what it takes, I support it.

26. Roger Rabbit spews:

@17

I think we now see Rufus’s real agenda — keep ‘em ignorant, uneducated, and barefoot so they’ll work for $2.00 an hour.

27. Goldy spews:

Roger @19,

As person who was the target of a false, unsubstantiated, anonymous allegation, I can sympathize with the teachers on this issue. We should all remember The Crucible.

28. headless lucy spews:

re 20: Maybe the kids would be better off getting buggered in religious schools….

29. Roger Rabbit spews:

@18

No, I don’t think so.

30. headless lucy spews:

Rufus: Fuck you and your moral outrage. You are a useless, finger-wagging haridan.

31. Roger Rabbit spews:

@28

No, I don’t think so.

32. zip spews:

All I’m saying here Goldy is that your whole rave about this judge’s decision is based on a wild assumption: that the punitive damage to the Church if the judge had ruled opposite would not have been enough to get them to clean up their ranks. Remember punitive damages are above and beyond any actual damages that are proven and are just as punitive in smaller doses as the mega doses that have been handed down against the Church.

You have no basis for claiming that $11 million is not enough to “send the message” as compared to the $80 million you’re raving over.

33. Roger Rabbit spews:

@30

What makes Doofus uniquely useless is his inability to make such fine distinctions as guilt and innocence, etc.

34. Roger Rabbit spews:

@32

That’s for the jury to decide, or the judge if it’s a non-jury trial.

35. Roger Rabbit spews:

Zip, it’s easy for you to sit there at your keyboard and second-guess the trier of fact. You didn’t hear the evidence, you don’t know the facts, you haven’t spent weeks or months studying the case, you haven’t seen and heard the defendants and the victims. Leave the courts’ decisions to the courts; don’t try to be an armchair judge.

36. RUFUS spews:

I hit a nerve. All you are apologists for the public schools! Go on with your rant about the church, the church deserves it. You are not to be taken seriously when it comes to the welfare of children.

37. Roger Rabbit spews:

BTW Doofus … nice try back @8 at changing the topic. Bait and switch — welcome to Doofus’s Used Car Lot!

38. zip spews:

Roger, answer the question, what is the basis for Goldy’s claim?
He’s the guy I’m second guessing.

In Post 7 Goldy tried to use this as justification for large punitive awards and as proof that tort reform is a bad idea. All I’m saying here is he is full of BS with that claim. Not second guessing “the trier of fact” you pompous grouch.

39. Roger Rabbit spews:

@36

What part of my post @19 do you disagree with, Doofus?

40. RUFUS spews:

I dont disagree that there are some teachers that get the shaft when it come to getting accused of sexual abuse. It is bound to happen. I am just saying it is more or a problem then what people think. It is not covered either. Most public school teacher do a good job with what they are given. The church deserves what happen to them. In my opinion the public schools should also get a good ass beating.

41. Roger Rabbit spews:

@38

What “claim” are you referring to, Zip?

Washington does not allow punitive damages. So it’s not an issue in our state courts, and there’s nothing to debate there (except maybe whether state law should be changed to allow punitive awards).

“Tort reform,” in the form advocated by Republicans, is nothing but cover for wrong-doers. Of all government institutions, the court system is the only one the little guy can count on for protection when a big, powerful institution has done him dirt. And under the contingent fee system, the little guy without a big bank account can still get access to the court system when he has a legitimate grievance. Republicans want to take that away in order to protect rich and powerful interests — i.e., themselves. I can understand why you might support that if you’re a rich and powerful interest — and an amoral, self-serving, manipulative S.O.B. to boot.

It’s more of the same-old, same-old: Republicans are FOR polluting the environment and AGAINST being responsible for the damage they cause; Republicans are FOR letting refineries poison drinking water without paying the medical bills of the people whose health they ruin and lives they destroy; Republicans are FOR letting incompetent doctors kill or main innocent patients without paying for the burial expenses and the family’s grief; Republicans are FOR lining the pockets of insurance companies with profits at the expense of victims who have suffered real loss.

Fuck that. Fuck you.

42. Roger Rabbit spews:

GOING POSTAL AT THE COFFEE POT

Oh here’s a good one from KIRO http://www.kirotv.com/irresistible/4900598/detail.html

“AKRON, Ohio — An Ohio postal worker faces charges after being accused of putting urine in the coffee of his co-workers.

“Authorities said the co-workers caught him by setting up a video camera in their break room after they became suspicious.

“Prosecutors said he was unhappy at work.”

Comment: When I was a kid things like this simply didn’t happen. Now, they’re a daily occurrence. Our society is looney — after all, look who they elected.

43. RUFUS spews:

Rabbit:

Agree with you in some case there is false accusations. That being said it is the exception to the norm when it comes to sexual abuse cases in public schools. I am not trying to change the subject here. I am trying to point out a obvious hypocrisy. It is as much or more of a problem in the public shcools as it is in the church.

44. zip spews:

Roger 40

The claim was right there in black & white: “In Post 7 Goldy tried to use this as justification for large punitive awards and as proof that tort reform is a bad idea. ” Way to change the subject bub. Go back and read post 7 and give Goldy shit you ass; he’s the one who wrote it not me.

WTF are you smoking to dream so many evil attributes of Republicans? I especially enjoyed “FOR letting incompetent doctors kill or main innocent patients without paying for the burial expenses and the family’s grief”. That’s a real doozy.

Better watch out Roger they’re everywhere! And they’re all FOR all of the evil that you have listed! Lock your doors you sorry bastard before they come and get you!

45. Roger Rabbit spews:

@42

Like I said above, go after the teachers who are guilty of violating their trust. NO ONE who touches a student sexually should ever be allowed to set foot in a school again. But this is a job for professionals — not reporters whose motivation is getting a byline.

46. Roger Rabbit spews:

@43, re 7

I don’t see anything in #7 that I disagree with. Want me to pick it apart? Okay, here goes …

“The issue has always been negligence.”

Legally speaking, that’s accurate.

“Dioceses around the nation new about the abuse, covered it up, and merely transfered the abusers from one parish to another, where they abused more children. That’s why juries are awarding large damages.”

This is true in all respects.

“See… a lot of people miss the whole point of civil awards like this. It is not simply to reimburse the victim for their suffering… one can’t really do that, can one. It is to deter such acts from being allowed in the future”

This is, indeed, the rationale for punitive damages (in jurisdictions that allow them).

“and as a result of these lawsuits the Catholic church and other organizations are taking such abuse seriously, and handing accusations over to the proper authorities. The large awards are achieving a positive impact that could not have been achieved otherwise.”

I can’t prove the cause-and-effect relationship, but we do know the Church covered up sexual abuse, shunted offending priests from parish to parish, and didn’t cooperate with authorities until they got nailed for financial verdicts in courtrooms. That’s when the Church started cleaning up the sexual abuse. Sure looks like being held legally liable had something to do with it.

“That is why liberals tend to oppose the kind of tort reform that Republicans want… large civil awards are necessary to keep corporations and other organizations honest.”

You certainly can find plenty of examples of corporations who knowingly and willfully kept dangerous products on the market because it was more profitable to pay the occasional wrongful death settlement than to redesign the product or stop selling it. Hitting them in the pocketbook seems to be the only thing they respond to.

47. JC Bob spews:

So who benefits from forcing Catholic parishes to lease their church and school from trial lawyers? I don’t see how that repairs the injury a child sustained 30 or 40 years ago. Maybe some one can explain that to me.

Certainly the trial lawyers will benefit handsomely. And, since trial lawyers are the second largest contributors to the Democrat Party, the Democrate Party benefits. Maybe Catholics, who vote predominantly Democrat, should re-consider how they vote.

I wonder when the Left is finished destroying the Catholic Church if we will have a better country. I know there are a lot of you out there who think so.

48. zip spews:

Roger

Look at the entirety of Goldy’s claims: He claims that the additional $70 million now available to the creditors as a result of the judges decision is what is making the Church change their evil ways. But he ignores the possibilty that this was already accomplished with the $11 million of diocese assets payable to the victims. Whcih is why I still say he has no basis for the claims he makes above in #7.

The motive that COULD be read into Goldy’s posting and subsequent comments which I tried unsuccessfully to get him to clarify: He seems to be saying that the punitive portion of the awards is a net positive BECAUSE the parishes have to close and sell the schools.

49. zip spews:

Roger 44

As usual you intentionally or blindly missed the point. You say “didn’t cooperate with authorities until they got nailed for financial verdicts in courtrooms. That’s when the Church started cleaning up the sexual abuse. Sure looks like being held legally liable had something to do with it.” which I agree with. The point is :$11 million accomplishes this so what is accomplished with the next $70 million obtained by closing and selling schools and churches?

50. fire_one spews:

JCBob – Did you work at being a moron, or were you born that way….. We have to make the Catholic church a CULT, not a religion, and TAX them…

51. fire_one spews:

zip @ 44 “”” The point is :$11 million accomplishes this so what is accomplished with the next $70 million obtained by closing and selling schools and churches? “””

The point is, moron, we close more schools, and have fewer children molested..

52. Roger Rabbit spews:

@42

“Agree with you in some case there is false accusations. That being said it is the exception to the norm when it comes to sexual abuse cases in public schools.”

I don’t have statistics or work in education, but a quick web search reveals a plethora of material indicating false accusations against teachers is a large and growing problem.

Examples:

“Most teachers feel it will never happen to them, but the ugly phenomenon of educators being falsely accused of abuse against students is growing each year.” http://www.cta.org/CaliforniaEducator/v7i8/Porta_3.htm

“Colorado Education Association General Counsel Marti Houser tells new teachers, ‘The chances are that some time during your career, you or someone in your building will be falsely accused of child abuse or improper conduct with a student.’ http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3617/is_200311/ai_n9334683

“Speaking at the NEA’s national conference in New Orleans, [NEA President] Geiger said he was not condoning sexual harassment but contended there are dozens of false accusations for every instance in which a child was sexually abused or harassed by a teacher.” http://www.menweb.org/throop/falsereport/nea.html

FreedomWorks, a conservative advocacy organization, urged passage of Texas’s Teacher Protection Act stating, “The Act provides sanctions against individuals who knowingly and falsely accuse educators of criminal activity.” http://www.freedomworks.org/processor/printer.php?issue_id=759

In a publicized east coast case, a teacher committed suicide within days after being falsely accused by a student. http://www.roanoke.com/roatimes/news/story163590.html

It’s an issue that generates debate and policy making in church organizations, too. http://www.pres-outlook.com/HTML/curran012004.html

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire … with this much concern being expressed by education leaders and policy makers, I don’t think you can blow off false accusations against teachers as a rare or isolated phenomenon.

53. RUFUS spews:

Then the kids go to public schools and will get molested where it will be ignored. The teacher union will just play muscal chair with the teachers and no one will know.

54. Roger Rabbit spews:

@46

If that’s your point, I’ve already responded to it. Go read my post at #35 again.

55. fire_one spews:

RUFUS @ 49 – … and what are your statistics for this claim?…. Because, I CAN give you stats for Catholic schools…

56. Roger Rabbit spews:

@49

This rambling nonsense doesn’t deserve a reply, other than to say Doofus’s anti-public-school political agenda is nakedly transparent.

57. zip spews:

fire one

or do you prefer to be known as “the enlightened progressive one”? You must have some real hang ups to say what you did. Seek help asshole.

58. Roger Rabbit spews:

At least JC Bob is honest in admitting that his real agenda is to take away the incomes of trial lawyers so they can’t contribute to Democrats.

59. Roger Rabbit spews:

@45

“I wonder when the Left is finished destroying the Catholic Church if we will have a better country. I know there are a lot of you out there who think so.”

Given the Catholic Church’s track record this might not be such a bad idea, but the only thing the Church is being asked to do is pay the damages the juries awarded after considering the evidence of the Church’s wrongdoing.

Our trolls are true to form. They’re apologists for warmongering; they’re apologists for torture; they’re apologists for corporate malfeasance and corruption. They may as well be apologists for sexual abuse, too.

60. fire_one spews:

zip — what, that Catholic schools are rated NUMBER 1 in child molestation? !!! Where do you live, in a cave? No TV? No internet? over 10,000 Catholic priests involved in molesting children…. And that is the “moral high ground?….”

61. RUFUS spews:

I went to school with a guy who shot his public school teacher in the late 80s because of sexual abuse. How many of those catholic priest do you think molested children?

Here I will post it again

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/news/local/coaches/news/union.html

Has you head been in the sand lately with Mary Kay in the news? Again you donks should not be taken seriously when it comes to welfare of children.

62. fire_one spews:

RUFUS – … denial is not just a river in Egypt… Tell us where he touched you…

63. zip spews:

Roger

Right, lets not second guess the judge, agreed. Goldy is the one who makes the claim with no basis that this illustrates why tort reform is a bad idea. I say WTF and you say don’t arm chair the judge. Maybe Goldy will respond so I don’t have to keep circling around with you. You’re worse than Don when it comes to this circular arguing. Ever been called “stubborn”?

64. RUFUS spews:

58

Are you one of those teachers? Hey the union will protect you.

65. zip spews:

Roger

Way to go twisting things around to call me “apologist for sexual abuse”. Ever wonder why nobody believes any of the BS you spout off?

fire one

Good idea dumb ass close all the catholic schools.

66. fire_one spews:

RUFUS – … so you have a bigger problem with Unions than you do child molestors? Seek. Help. Immediately.

67. Roger Rabbit spews:

Zip, I don’t see where the “circular arguing” complaint is coming from. You’re the one who’s being obtuse. You seem to be saying the jury should have awarded $11 million instead of $80 million. I responded that was for the jury to decide. What’s circular about that? I’m simply saying I don’t find your second-guessing persuasive.

What are you pushing here? A new legal principle for measuring damages that says damage awards should be capped so defendants are bankrupted? That verdicts should never put businesses, nonprofits, or churches out of business — no matter how much harm they inflicted, or how much the victims’ loss is? If that’s the snake oil you’re peddling here, I’m not buying it. Society is better off without them in some cases.

68. fire_one spews:

Zip —- No. Really. Close all Catholics Schools. Good idea. Thanks. If Ford put out a vehicle that did this much damage, they would be out of business…

69. Roger Rabbit spews:

@63 — read that as “so defendants are never bankrupted”

70. RUFUS spews:

All you donks are apologists for the WEA! Ah you poor little victims.

71. fire_one spews:

And then we close all madrasas’ …. You have a complaint about that?

72. fire_one spews:

RUFUS @ 66 Nope, just Catholic, boy groping, priests…

73. fire_one spews:

RUFUS – sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between Muslims and Catholics……….

74. Roger Rabbit spews:

By the way, Zip, the Catholic Church doesn’t need church buildings, parochial schools, endowment funds, art collections, or fat bank accounts to teach the Word of God. Jesus did it from a hillside with nothing more than a pair of sandals and homespun robe.

75. zip spews:

Roger

Goldy sermonizes that “a lot of people miss the whole point of civil awards like this” and seems to say the point is that “The large awards are achieving a positive impact that could not have been achieved otherwise.”

All I’m asking for here is the basis (besides the court decided) for Goldy to claim that $11 million from the diocese did not already accomplish this. Without the extra $70 million from the parishes. No snake oil involved.

Goldy goes on to say “That is why liberals tend to oppose the kind of tort reform that Republicans want… large civil awards are necessary to keep corporations and other organizations honest.” What’s the basis for claiming that the Church would not have been kept honest without the added $70 million?

Here’s the circular part: I ask for the basis, you say because the court decided. over and over.

76. Roger Rabbit spews:

What about if the archbishops and priests didn’t have offices or classrooms to sit in — had to do their work on the streets like Jesus did — and spent their time ministering to those needing it most — maybe you’d have a real church then.

77. fire_one spews:

Or, and I know this is a stretch, how about if Jesus really thought that molesting young children was BAD?

78. RUFUS spews:

Dont get me wrong, I want the public schools to teach what ever they want to the little kiddies. Hey if parents want to send their kids to the public schools or a NAMBLA convention who am I to second guess them. Just dont force everyone else’s kids to go. Vouchers NOW!

79. zip spews:

Why don’t you guys quit beating around the bush and just admit that you are filled with glee to see the Church bankrupted? Take the Papists out! What a great way to “make the world a better place”.

80. fire_one spews:

RUFUS @ 74 ” or a NAMBLA convention ” – so you guys are all alike?

81. fire_one spews:

Zip @ 75 ” Take the Papists out! What a great way to “make the world a better place”. ”

AGREED!

82. RUFUS spews:

You donks defend NAMBLA. Come on the ACLU is the at the right hand of the donk altar.

83. Roger Rabbit spews:

@71

“Here’s the circular part: I ask for the basis, you say because the court decided. over and over.”

Okay, fair enough — I assumed you’re smart enough that it wasn’t necessary to spell out the following — but fair enough.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to pore over transcripts, evidence, jury instructions, etc. to form my own opinion of whether the verdict was fair and just — and if I did, it would still be only my opinion. That’s properly the function of appellate courts.

Instead, I addressed this in a general way that implies my faith in the legal process and the justness of the results it produces. I’ve been a lawyer for over 30 years, so I understand that verdicts don’t come out of thin air. They represent more than a jury’s whim. A verdict is a result of the evidence presented to the jury that the defendant caused harm to the plaintiff(s) in a way that violated the plaintiff’s legal rights, and of the evidence that quantified the harm in monetary terms. I repeat, verdicts aren’t random, arbitrary, or whimsical; they flow from facts established by evidence. If and when a verdict includes a punitive damages component, that’s a separate issue. There are legal rules that govern when a party can ask for punitive damages, what instructions the judge must give to the jury on awarding punitive damages, and what facts must exist for a jury to award punitive damages. In jurisdictions that allow punitive damages (Washington doesn’t), their purpose is to deter future conduct by the defendant and others who might be inclined to behave similarly. Some jurisdictions allow punitive damages because they are believed to be effective for this purpose — and a less costly, less intrusive, and more effective means of policing society, regulating behavior, and preventing harm than government supervision or regulation of private activity, which is the only real alternative.

As for whether the damage award was appropriate in a particular case, the best way to gauge that without spending weeks or months of your life poring over the details of the case — something I’m not willing to do unless I’m being paid for my time — is to wait and see if the defendant appeals, and if it does, whether the appellate court upholds the award, reduces it, or sets it aside and to read in the court’s opinion their rationale for doing so. The appellate court judges get paid to figure this stuff out, and they’re better at it than you or me.

Does that answer your question?

84. fire_one spews:

RUFUS @ 78 ….. ? WTF you talkin about? Everyone knows that the Catholic Church “loves” the littl boys………..

85. zip spews:

fire one
Great, one bigot identifies himself. Why don’t you scream about gay rights for a while until you figure out what a hypocrite you are. You’re probably pro-Palestinian suicide bomber too right?

86. antidote spews:

I’m with rufus @17: Stop child abuse in religious schools now!

87. antidote spews:

zip: Why are you pro-Palestinian suicide bomber?

88. fire_one spews:

Zip ===== as a matter of fact, I do support gay rights, and if you were someone targeted as a Palestinian Bomber, why, that would appear to be a hate crime, and I, for one, would retain a lawyer……….

89. Roger Rabbit spews:

Zip, if what you want from me is a statement that legislation should be passed to cap jury verdicts because the legal system is untrustworthy — you won’t get it. If you want to find fault with the specific case involving the Spokane diocese — then YOU critique it. Don’t expect me to do the work for you unless you’re willing to pay for my time.

90. zip spews:

Roger

You’ve already said “because the court decided” a zillion times. If the tort laws were chnaged, the court would decide differently, agreed?

That does not back up Goldy’s claim that “The large awards are achieving a positive impact that could not have been achieved otherwise.” Emphasis on “large” ($80 million vs. $11 million) and “could not have been achieved otherwise”.

91. Roger Rabbit spews:

@82

Let’s protect all kids in all schools from abuse and exploitation. But let’s do it with competent professionals. Armchair dilletants need not apply.

92. RUFUS spews:

The only difference between religious and public schools are just the names.

93. fire_one spews:

RUFUF- the only difference between Right Wing Fascists and Republicans is the name……..

94. RUFUS spews:

Vouchers = Freedom

Public Schools = Slavery

95. Roger Rabbit spews:

Reply to 86

I do not support changing Washington law to allow punitive damages in this jurisdiction. I think the same objectives can be achieved by a combination of (a) requiring tortfeasors to pay victims compensatory damages including pain and suffering, and (b) controlling corporate and institutional behavior with government regulation. I favor the model that removes dangerous products from the market via government review, approval, and licensing of such products as drugs; government licensing and inspection of food processing establishments; government standards for toy safety, etc.; and so on.

However, if we’re going to move closer to a laissez faire/caveat emptor model of the marketplace as desired by conservatives, then I think a punitive damages legal model will be necessary to protect the general public from predatory corporate and institutional behavior, because experience has shown that simply requiring these tortfeasors to compensate victims for actual loss fails to deter, stop, or prevent the harmful behavior. The first duty of a society is to protect its citizens, and the highest duty of a society is to protect its weakest and most vulnerable citizens.

96. Roger Rabbit spews:

Doofus @ 88

You don’t have to prove you’re stupid. We already know that.

97. fire_one spews:

RUFUS – who hurt you so bad? Man, I haven’t seen anyone so full of hate for a while….

98. Roger Rabbit spews:

@88 (continued)

Although I can’t help but observe that if Bush and the Christian Taliban get their way, public schools will be religious schools.

99. Roger Rabbit spews:

@93

I think he would rather have been a dropout but the truant officer wouldn’t let him.

100. zip spews:

That’s fine Roger but most civil lawsuits have nothing to do with “predatory” behavior. Using “predatory” behavior as justification for large damage or punitive awards sounds like snake oil to those of us who live with business risks.

101. RUFUS spews:

You donks have little faith in the public schools dont you. If you truely knew that is was the best out there you would let it stand the test of freedom. Oh yee of little faith.

102. Chuck spews:

I am not a Catholic, dont believe in the religion, and as a matter of fact I think the Catholic faith is concieved of a satan type influence…if that exists. But in my opinion, this ruling is as you libs are fond of pointing out is a “separation of church and state”!

103. Chuck spews:

The state has no right ruling on church matters…

104. RUFUS spews:

If we could only get the same accountability from our government as from the Catholic church we may get somewhere. Instead we get JLARC.

105. Roger Rabbit spews:

100

If you can’t afford the risks of the business you’re in, you shouldn’t be in that business.

106. Roger Rabbit spews:

101

Public schools have withstood the freedom of parents to send their children to parochial or private schools very well, thank you.

Of course, the real issue you’re raising is whether taxpayers should pay to send other people’s children to parochial or private schools — possibly schools they can’t afford for their own children.

I thought people like you were against this kind of wealth redistribution?

107. Roger Rabbit spews:

102

“I am not a Catholic, dont believe in the religion, and as a matter of fact I think the Catholic faith is concieved of a satan type influence…if that exists. But in my opinion, this ruling is as you libs are fond of pointing out is a “separation of church and state”!

That’s funny — I could’ve sworn it was about grown men butt-fucking little boys.

103

“The state has no right ruling on church matters…”

The state has every right to enforce secular laws.

108. Roger Rabbit spews:

104

“If we could only get the same accountability from our government as from the Catholic church we may get somewhere. Instead we get JLARC.”

We have government accountability — it’s called “elections.” We had one of those last November, and the citizens of our good state put Democrats in charge of both houses of the Legislature, the Governor’s office, most of the other statewide offices, and returned all of our state’s Democrats in Congress to the U.S. House and Senate. Kind of tells you what they think of Republicans, doesn’t it.

109. zip spews:

Roger 105

Did I say that Roger? No of course not. Way to dodge the comment (again).

I’m in the engineering business which industry-wide is constantly targeted by civil lawsuits. This threat of suits is known as a “business risk” you ….ing idiot. Why don’t you write a 5000 word essay pontificating about how “predatory” the engineering industry is. Yes there is insurance available. The annual premium for the insurance I buy would cover the salary of TWO entry level engineers.

There’s my illustration of the need for tort reform. So you can thank your Democratic party for making sure that a ton of money goes to insurance premiums every year in this state instead of “living wage” payrolls. You pompous ass.

110. Roger Rabbit spews:

109

The topic of this thread is punitive damages award against the Spokane Archdiocese for sexual abuse. What the hell does the business risks of engineering have to do with that?

However, if you want to change topics, then I would ask why an engineering firm that designs a bridge which collapses or a sewage plant that doesn’t work shouldn’t be held liable for the consequences of their screwups? Somebody will pay the cost of what they did. Who, taxpayers? No, of course not, you’re against taxes. The innocent victims, that’s who.

That, in a nutshell, is the Republican “tort reform” program — make the innocent victim pay!

And by the way, the Democratic Party doesn’t have a goddam thing to do with your company’s insurance premiums. When returns on invetments are low, premiums go up, it’s that simple. There hasn’t been a recent spike in lawsuits or claim payouts. The only thing that’s spiking is insurance executive salaries — e.g., Mike McGavick, ex-CEO of Safeco and soon-to-be GOP Senate candidate, who paid himself $10 million a year for losing money for his shareholders and making the lowest claims payouts to his policyholders of any insurance company doing business in Washington. Your company’s premiums have gone up because of the stock market decline and low interest rates — period. Trial lawyers and Democrats have nothing to do with it.

You’re so full of shit it makes people’s teeth hurt.

111. zip spews:

Here’s a study that concludes that tort reform reduces accidental deaths:
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=781424

Roger supports death.

Here’s a piece from
http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/frank200508260819.asp:

“In September 11-related lawsuits, the plaintiffs’ bar has sued airlines, airports, architects, New York City, and Motorola (!). Trial lawyers might have extorted billions from legitimate businesses seeking to avoid the risk of a bankrupting judgment at trial had there not been a taxpayer bail-out of the September 11 victims in exchange for their agreement not to sue.”

Roger supports airlines being sued out of business because of 9/11.

Here’s a paper demonstrating tort reform’s affect on insurance rates for low-income people:

http://www.house.gov/jec/tort/auto/auto.htm

Roger supports taking money from poor people and giving it to evil Republicans in “big insurance”.

112. zip spews:

Roger @ 110

If you don’t want a response, don’t make inane snide comments like you constantly do (105 for example).

Who appointed you to the “topic police” anyway? You would be the worst choice for that job of anybody here based on your habits.

Tort reform bills are constantly blocked by the Democrats. Leading to higher insurance premiums for us all.

113. prr spews:

Rabiit @ All, (or should I just say pencil dick)

You demented rambling, especially on this topic have shown what a true piece of shit you actually are.

What is truly sad as that an ex-state employee, we are stuck paying for your retirment beneifts while you begin your decline towards death.

The only justice is that, from the sounds of it, your health is already declining and that gives me joy.

Keep sitting at the computer old man, typing away, all day long. I am sure that your lack of physical activity will speed up the dying process.

114. Roger Rabbit spews:

pISSON rOGER rABBIT @ 113

Untwist your panties, rabid one! The only pension benefits I get are MY OWN MONEY that I contributed out of my paychecks. Hell, it’ll be years before I even see any interest, that is if I live that long. (Oh don’t you WISH the annoying bunny would get hit by a speeding car on Aurora Avenue ….)

115. Roger Rabbit spews:

Ya know, it isn’t enough for these fucking cheap-labor republicans to bitch about public servants getting paid minimal wages (we’re supposed to work for free) they even resent us getting OUR OWN MONEY back from the pension system! They also want highways, public schools, their wars, etc., without paying for them. What a bunch of fucking

F R E E L O A D E R S

116. prr spews:

Rabbit,

I am eating my bran with you in mind.

Someday soon, Goldy will wax philosophical about poor rabbit dying and leaving his wife to rot in a state run old folks home.

At that point I’ll take a big steaming dump on your grave.

117. Richard Pope spews:

I think the bankruptcy judge’s decision is wrong. Judge Williams was persuaded only by the name appearing on the title to most of the church properties in the Spokane diocese — which happens to be “Catholic Bishop of Spokane”. This entity is a corporation sole, which is used by religious entities who are controlled by a single bishop or similar leader.

In the Roman Catholic church, the local bishop does have personal and ultimate control over the diocese, including all of its parishes. This includes assignments of priests and the ability to override any local parish decision. Legally, the priest in charge of the parish makes all decisions for the parish, subject to the ability of the bishop to override. The decisions of the local bishop can only be overridden by the pope, although in practice the pope’s decision-making gets delegated to Vatican administrators.

However, the canon law (i.e. the internal by-laws of a religious organization) of the Roman Catholic Church hold that the local bishop holds title to parish land and funds in trust for the benefit of the members of the local parish. Each parish maintains separate land, funds, and other property that is directly attributed to that parish. When someone puts money in the collection plate, it is intended to benefit that parish.

The land, funds and property held for the benefit of the entire diocese are separate from those of the parish under Catholic canon law. The diocese gets funds mainly from the parishes by each parish giving a certain amount from the contributions made by their parishoners. Also, some contributions are made directly to the diocese.

Hold on for a few minutes, and I will explain why Judge Williams held that this arrangement was not effective to benefit the parishes.

118. Richard Pope spews:

The issue here is “CONSTRUCTIVE TRUST” versus “EXPRESS TRUST”.

In an “EXPRESS TRUST”, the land title documents, the bank account names, stock certificate names, etc. would expressly indicate that the land, funds, and property were being held in trust. For example, they might say something like “Catholic Bishop of Spokane as Trustee for Blessed Sacrament Parish”.

However, in a “CONSTRUCTIVE TRUST”, the land title documents, the bank account names, stock certificate names, etc. for the property of Blessed Sacrament Parish would merely say “Catholic Bishop of Spokane”.

In every other jurisdiction (i.e. U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals) that has addressed the issue, a “CONSTRUCTIVE TRUST” prevails over the rights of other creditors in bankruptcy. The beneficiary of a “CONSTRUCTIVE TRUST” will receive the property, instead of the trustee’s creditors.

However, in the Ninth Circuit, property held in a “CONSTRUCTIVE TRUST” becomes part of the trustee’s property and is subject to the claims of the trustee’s creditors. The beneficiaries of the “CONSTRUCTIVE TRUST” would also have a claim against the trustee, but this would be subject to a pro-rata distribution. They would only get a percentage of the parish property, instead of keeping all of it no matter what.

I think this case will be appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. There is a conflict between the Ninth Circuit and the other circuits, which needs to be resolved. And probably the Spokane Diocese will prevail.

119. Roger Rabbit spews:

pISSON rOGER rABBIT @ 16

You first, asshole — so I can piss and shit on your grave! Do the world a favor and throw yourself off a cliff.

120. Roger Rabbit spews:

@17

I appreciate the legal analysis, Richard, and give you credit for taking a thoughtful run at it. However, keep in mind that church law cannot modify state law, and it is the latter that will govern. The appellate court may well look to the church’s interpretation of its ownership of property for guidance as to the intent of the seller and buyer in the acquisition transactions, but state law will define who holds the title.

121. Chuck spews:

Roger Rabbit@107
“The state has every right to enforce secular laws.”

Then dont get sniffly like you usually do when an evangalist, pope or other strong leader comes out for or against an election matter or attempts to apply pressure with his clout! You guys always whine “separation of church and state”, it should be a two way street!

122. prr spews:

Pencil dick @ 119.

Good, I finally got to you, you piece of trash.

Hurry up and die old man.

123. rujax206 spews:

chuck, zip, rufus, and (esp.) prr-

Dayam…you all are SICK.

124. Chuck spews:

Roger Rabbit@107
“That’s funny – I could’ve sworn it was about grown men butt-fucking little boys.”

I didnt know you got that upclose and personal…perhaps you should fill us in.

125. Aexia spews:

Then dont get sniffly like you usually do when an evangalist, pope or other strong leader comes out for or against an election matter or attempts to apply pressure with his clout! You guys always whine “separation of church and state”, it should be a two way street!

That has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with being a charitable non-profit. If you don’t want to pay taxes, you have to play by certain rules. You’ll notice that no one’s saying Robertson and the rest of the American Taliban can’t advocate for or against candidates; they’re saying they won’t be a tax-exempt organization.

126. Chuck spews:

Aexia@125
First of all, every working member of a church or other nonprofit organisation pays taxes, if a church goes out and buys new hymn books they pay sales tax in Washington.

But putting that to the side, as I said you libs shouldnt be able to have it both ways. By the way, Robertson does indeed pay income tax :) . The state has no buisiness ruling in this matter.

127. Richard Pope spews:

Rabbit @ 120

Well, it took a while for my post at # 119 to appear. I was upset that the spam filter ate it :(

Anyway, the constructive trust vs. express trust issue that I talked about in # 119 didn’t start out with anything to do with religious organizations. But the religious angle will make it a lot more interesting.

Ironically, under Ninth Circuit case law, the Spokane diocese could have sheltered its property simply by changing the real estate title documents (i.e. filing a bunch of quit claim deeds from “Catholic Bishop of Spokane” to “Catholic Bishop of Spokane as Trustee for Blessed Sacrament Parish”) and similar changes to its bank accounts, etc. This could have even been done the day before filing bankruptcy.

They could have used better lawyers :)

128. NoWonder spews:

Roger Rabbit @ 19

‘That’s the rule – innocent until proven guilty; and we don’t drag the innocent through the mud.’

Oh, I thought you were talking about Karl Rove for second. Sorry for the misunderstanding.