Delaware courts: Judge lifts stay on sexual abuse suits

Cases frozen since October can move forward

The News Journal, Delaware/January 8, 2010

A Superior Court judge has officially lifted a stay on all abuse lawsuits filed under the Delaware Child Victim's Act of 2007 that do not directly involve the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington.

Judge Calvin L. Scott Jr. had ordered the hold in October to allow for possible group settlement talks -- but after the diocese sought bankruptcy protection later that same month, effectively freezing many of the lawsuits -- Scott concluded that his earlier order was "no longer meaningful."

Scott signed the new order changing course in late December and it means dozens of lawsuits against church religious orders, churches outside the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington -- and likely private schools, groups or individuals -- can now move forward toward a trial.

Wilmington Attorney Thomas Neuberger said Thursday that this clears the way for at least 40 lawsuits that are being handled by his firm -- and at least as many by other attorneys -- that had been on hold.

He said attorneys can now resume taking depositions, and in some cases, prepare for trial dates within the next few months.

Attorney Mark Reardon, who is representing several religious order defendants, said the order by Scott, "does not diminish the defendants interest in diligently working to resolve as many of these cases as possible through mediation. Mediation should be the focus here."

All abuse lawsuits involving the Diocese of Wilmington and some of its parishes remain on hold as the church's bankruptcy proceeds through the court. The diocese sought protection in federal bankruptcy court to manage the potential liability resulting from the flood of clergy sexual abuse lawsuits.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.