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Can I Still Recover In An Auto Accident If I’m Partially At Fault?

By Wes Larsen

Not everything is cut and dry in a motor vehicle collision injury case. For example, what happens if both parties in a two-car collision share blame (such as if one party was speeding at the same moment that the other party ran a stop sign and hit them)? If one of the parties at fault is injured, can they still qualify for a damages verdict or a monetary settlement from the other person’s insurance company?

The answer to this question is complex and fact-specific, and depends greatly on the laws of the individual state where the accident happened. For example, some states allow an injured person to recover damages for personal injuries caused by a third party only if the fault allocated to the injured person is less than the fault of the third party (allocation of fault is something determined by a jury at trial). Other states allow an injured party to recover damages no matter how much fault is attributed to them, as long as their claimed damages are reduced by the percentage of fault assigned to them by a jury. Let’s take a look at the laws of a few states in the western U.S. to compare how a partially at-fault injured person might still obtain a recovery:

Idaho

While the Comparative Negligence Doctrine (also known as Contributory Negligence) allows an injured person to recover their damages to the degree that the damages are not their own fault, Idaho has adopted a modified version of the Comparative Negligence Doctrine that makes things tough for some injured people. The state allows a person injured in Idaho to recover for their damages from the other party as long as the injured person’s degree of fault is less than that of the other party. However, if the other driver does not share at least 51% of the blame for the collision, then the injured party is entitled to nothing. The injured person’s damages also must be reduced proportionate to their own degree of fault, which is typical in most states.

So, for example, if Ann is injured by Ben but has 30% of the blame for the collision, then Ann can recover the remaining 70% of her damages from Ben. If, however, Ann has 50% or more of the blame, then she is entitled to recover none of her damages from Ben, even though Ben is still up to 50% at fault for Ann’s injuries.

This same standard applies in the event there are multiple parties in the collision, as Ann’s percentage of fault must be less than the combined percentages of fault of all the other parties. This is a tough standard for people injured in Idaho, since it requires them to bear the entire burden of their own damages even if they were only 50% at fault.

(Source: Idaho Code § 6-801, found at https://legislature.idaho.gov/statutesrules/idstat/title6/t6ch8/sect6-801/)

Utah

Utah’s Comparative Negligence law is nearly identical to Idaho’s law. In Utah, you can obtain a recovery from the other party as long as the jury finds you less than 50% at fault for your own injuries. So if Ann has 49% of the blame for the collision, she can still go after Ben for 51% of her damages. However, if she’s found to have 50% or more of the blame, she is entitled to recover nothing. This is another unfortunate situation in which the law penalizes an injured person and bars them from recovering any of their damages even if they’re only 50% at fault.

(Source: Utah Code Annotated § 78B-5-818, found at https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title78B/Chapter5/78B-5-S818.html)

Washington State

Washington State applies a different version of the Comparative Negligence standard from Idaho and Utah, known as Pure Comparative Fault. This standard benefits the injured person far more than Idaho’s modified standard. In Washington, an injured person is not barred from recovery from the other party simply because the injured person is more at fault than the other party. Washington simply requires that the injured person’s damages be reduced by their assigned degree of fault.

So, even if Ann is 99% at fault for her own injuries, she can still bring a claim for the remaining 1% against Ben. The jury at trial will determine the percentage of fault Ann has for her own injuries, and will also determine the total amount of Ann’s damages stemming from the collision. The judge will then reduce the jury’s damages verdict by Ann’s assigned percentage of fault.

(Source: Revised Code of Washington § 4.22.005, found at https://app.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=4.22.005)

Alaska

Alaska follows a Pure Comparative Fault standard similar to that of Washington State. Ann is subject to no percentage of fault requirement, and her damages are simply reduced by whatever her assigned percentage of fault for the collision may be.

So, like in Washington, Ann can recover 1% of her damages from Ben even if she is 99% to blame for the collision.

(Source: Alaska Statutes §§ 09.17.060 and 09.17.080, found at http://www.akleg.gov/basis/statutes.asp#09.17.060 and http://www.akleg.gov/basis/statutes.asp#09.17.080)

Montana

Montana’s Modified Comparative Negligence law is almost the same as those of Idaho and Utah, but with a slight difference that greatly benefits injured people. An injured person in Montana can only recover their damages if their percentage of fault does not exceed that of all other parties combined.

In other words, Ann cannot be more than 50% at fault for her own injuries. If a jury finds Ann and Ben equally at fault (i.e., 50/50), then Ann can still recover 50% of her damages from Ben. This subtle variation from Idaho and Utah law is massive in its practical application because juries often prefer to assign equal fault to the two at-fault parties rather than nitpick actual percentages of fault.

So, unlike in the Utah and Idaho scenarios above, Ann is still entitled to a recovery even if she and Ben share the same percentage of fault for the collision. She therefore takes home half of her damages in Montana, whereas in Idaho and Utah she would take home nothing.

(Source: Montana Code Annotated § 27-1-702, found at https://leg.mt.gov/bills/mca/title_0270/chapter_0010/part_0070/section_0020/0270-0010-0070-0020.html)

Oregon

Oregon falls in with Montana and has adopted a Modified Comparative Negligence standard in favor of the injured. A person injured in Oregon can recover their damages as long as the injured person is no more than 50% at fault for their own injury.

Ann can therefore still recover 50% of her damages from Ben in the event a jury finds her 50% at fault for the collision. If she has 51% of the blame or more, she is entitled to no recovery from Ben. So, if a jury finds Ann and Ben to be equally at fault for Ann’s injuries, then Ann still takes home 50% of her damages from Ben. This standard is not as favorable to the injured as the Pure Comparative Fault standards of Alaska and Washington, but it’s still better than those of Utah and Idaho.

(Source: Oregon Revised Statutes § 31.600, found at https://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/31.600)

As you can see, an injured person’s right to recover their damages from an at-fault party differs significantly by state if the injured party happens to share some blame. Because auto insurance companies are astutely aware of the laws and typical jury verdicts in each state, your potential to obtain a settlement/recovery depends heavily on state comparative negligence laws regardless of whether you file a lawsuit or try to resolve your claim with the insurance company out of court.

If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle collision and would like to learn about your rights, please contact us or give us a call at (208) 667-0683 for a free consult.

Our firm is licensed in all of the above states and more. We’re happy to help you navigate the law and pursue the justice to which you’re entitled.

JVW Is Here For You As We All Deal With COVID-19

JVW is open and continuing to advance our clients’ rights.  We recognize that now, more than ever, individuals, companies and municipalities need our help.  We have rapidly transitioned our office to work under the new “social distancing” norm.  Whatever your legal needs, we are here for you.  Our firm was already ahead of the technology curve, and in a short few day we completed the transition to work remotely with our clients and the courts.  Courts remain available for processing cases by using available technology.  Most mediations and hearings are being done telephonically, and cases continue to move through the system.

YOUR SAFETY COMES FIRST

Client safety comes first.  JVW is set up to work remotely with all clients to maintain social distancing.  We can work with you by video conference, email and telephone.  We can help you set up technology to communicate with us, and we encourage you to do so.

Our normal hours will not change, and our doors will remain open for business. However, many of our attorneys will be working remotely, and will rely more heavily on telephone and video conferencing to stay in contact with you. Wherever possible, we are practicing safe social distancing to do our part in curbing the spread of COVID-19. As always, we will be available to address any of your legal concerns.

WE WILL WORK TO OVERCOME DELAYS

In the coming months we anticipate we will experience some delays with some courts and judges as they decide how to deal with COVID-19. We intend to continue to advocate for prompt resolution of our client’s matters, and we will do our best to encourage judges to keep your case moving forward. If you have any concerns about how the spread of COVID-19 may affect your case, we encourage you to contact us.  If you need special accommodations because you are a high risk individual, please let us know and we will assure your concerns are addressed.

We thank you for your patience and cooperation while our nation weathers this change in circumstances. We are all in this together, and we hope that by taking these proactive steps we can continue to operate and serve the community by empowering our clients with the law.

A Boy Suffers Horrific Sexual Abuse by Multiple Perpetrators While At LaSalle School, Albany, NY

La Salle School, Albany, NY

Photograph of Fr. Joseph Romano

Fr. Joseph Romano

Photograph of William Keyes

William H. Keyes

Note: Telephone interviews of Daniel Lewis or any of the attorneys can be arranged by contacting Craig Vernon at (208) 667-0683 or by email at cvernon@jvwlaw.net.

Daniel Lewis has filed a civil lawsuit against The Diocese of Albany, New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), the LaSalle School, the Christian Brothers, and perpetrators William H. Keyes and Fr. Joseph R. Romano, two of the three predators LaSalle School employed to supervise and care for Lewis and the other boys who were residents there back in the 1980’s. A third abuser, Charles Burrell, is deceased. According to its website, the LaSalle School was founded in 1854 by the De La Salle Christian Brothers to serve abandoned, orphaned, and/or otherwise troubled boys.

As a ward of the State of New York, Daniel was removed from his family by OCFS and placed at LaSalle School at age 14. Working in cooperation, OCFS and LaSalle implemented a pilot foster care program and placed Daniel in the home of Charles B. Burrell. Immediately, Burrell began to sexually abuse Daniel. The sexual abuse continued, almost daily, for approximately a year, at which time it is believed the program abruptly ended and Daniel was returned to LaSalle.

While in Burrell’s home, Burrell frequently invited William H. Keyes to sexually assault Daniel and other boys in his home. Keyes is believed to have been the supervisor of the Lasalle’s prefects at that time. Keyes was arrested in April of 1985, convicted of promoting sexual performance by a child less than 16 years of age, and was sentenced to 42 months to seven years in state prison. He currently resides in Albany, New York, and is a registered sex offender.

When Daniel returned to live at LaSalle, he met Fr. Joseph R. Romano, a priest employed by the Diocese of Albany and by the School as the coordinator of religious education. Fr. Romano roamed the School’s dormitory in the evenings, socializing with the boys. He interacted with William Keyes who also worked at LaSalle. Not long after Daniel met this priest, Fr. Romano began to sexually assault him. In addition to suffering horrific sexual assaults by Fr. Romano, Daniel was forced to watch Romano as he made another boy give him oral sex.

Fr. Romano was eventually removed from the ministry in 2003, following credible allegations of sexual abuse against children. It is believed that Fr. Romano, who has never faced any criminal penalties for his sexual victimization of children, is now living the quiet life in Florida, an affront to his victims. This makes a civil case that much more important to Daniel Lewis.

Daniel files his lawsuit under a new New York law (Child Victim’s Act), that gives adult survivors of child sexual abuse until August 20, 2020 to file a civil lawsuit for past abuse. Daniel discusses how this lawsuit is empowering: “For years, this was my shame. By filing this lawsuit, my shame ends. It is time to figure out why LaSalle, the State of New York, and the Diocese of Albany, put (and kept) these sexual predators in a position of power and control over me and other vulnerable boys.”

“These men were supposed to take care of me; instead, they harmed me in the worst way. They stole my innocence and destroyed my trust. Even though this happened long ago, as I reflect back on my life, I wonder how much of my self-destructive behavior is linked to what happened when I was living at LaSalle under the care of these pedophiles,” Daniel said.

According to Daniel’s attorneys—Craig Vernon and Leander James of James, Vernon & Weeks, and Patrick Noaker of Noaker Law Firm LLC, the lawsuit alleges several counts of negligence against the Defendants who failed to protect him from years of sexual abuse by Burrell, Keyes and Fr. Romano, predators that had unfettered access to him at LaSalle.

“This case is very upsetting,” said attorney Craig Vernon. “For the sexual assaults to have happened over such a long period of time, smacks of neglect. Instead of protecting boys like Daniel, the Defendants put sexual predators in positions of power and control, allowing them ongoing access to vulnerable boys.”

Leander James, one of Daniel’s attorneys, adds: “Daniel is shining a spotlight on past wrongs. For many, the first step in healing is taking this important, yet difficult step of coming forward and demanding answers.”

Daniel’s attorneys recognize Daniel’s courage by filing this lawsuit under his full name, as abuse survivors have the right to file lawsuits under a pseudonym to protect their privacy.

“Daniel’s decision to go public with his story is a courageous act that will help other abuse survivors,” explains attorney Patrick Noaker. “He’s helping to de-stigmatize the shame that many survivors carry with them.”

“Preliminary investigation has revealed that there are likely many other abuse survivors from LaSalle out there. This appears to be just the tip of the iceberg of sexual abuse survivors at LaSalle.” Vernon added.

For more information about attorneys Craig Vernon and Leander James, see Attorneys. For Patrick Noaker, see Noaker Law.

More Than 600 Clergy Abusers Named in California

In California, there are more than 660 credibly accused Catholic clergy abusers, according to one organization that tracks the abuse. The list of abusers includes four high-ranking bishops among the list of priests accused of harming children.

Victims of sexual abuse in California now have more time to seek justice through the courts, thanks to a new law signed last month by California’s governor. Included in the list are bishops Tod D. Brown from the Fresno Diocese, and Juan Arzube, Roger Mahony and G. Patrick Ziemann from the Los Angeles Archdiocese.

Attorneys at James Vernon & Weeks have teamed with California law firm Donahoo and Associates to help victim pursue their cases.

“The number of victims is staggering,” said Leander James of James Vernon & Weeks. “And we know survivors of child sexual abuse struggle to come forward. This is just the beginning.”

On Oct 13, California Gov. Gavin Newsome signed the law suspending the statute of limitations for three years beginning in Jan. 1, 2020, providing a window of opportunity for abuse survivors to bring past claims that have expired due to the statute of limitations. Survivors of child sexual abuse can now seek justice, no matter when their abuse occurred.

Going forward, the new law also gives survivors until the age of 40 or until five years from the discovery of the abuse to file claims. Previously, the limit was 26 years old or within three years of the discovery of the abuse.

California is among the latest states in recent years, such as New York, New Jersey, Hawaii, and Minnesota, to allow abuse victims more time to pursue civil cases. Abuse by Catholic clergy and Boy Scouts of America volunteers are a few institutions in California that have been seen large numbers of sex abuse victims, James said. In California alone, there are more than 660 credibly accused Catholic clergy abusers, according to one organization that tracks the abuse.

If you are a victim of abuse, call 888-667-0683 for a free consultation.

Below is a list of names of credibly accused Catholic clergy abusers.

Source: Bishop Accountability.

Rubin Abaya • Nicolas Aguilar-Rivera • Arturo Ahumada • Pierre Albalaa • Sebastian Altamirano Torres • Joseph F. Alzugaray • David E. Anderson • Roger Anderson • Aloysius Antlitz • Andreas Arias • Juan (Bp.) Arzube • Edmund Austin • Delfin Babilonia • Michael Stephen Baker • Frederick R. Balak • Victor Balbin • Felipe Baldonado • Kevin P. Barmasse • John Bauer • Gaspar Bautista • Christopher Berbena • Matthias A. Berumen • Honesto Bayranta Bismonte • Robert Boley • Robert Bond • Leland Boyer • John Lawrence Brennan • Lawrence Brown • Michael Daniel Buckley • Ronald Francis Burt • Ed Byrom • Honorato (Henry) Caboang • Samuel Charles Cabot • Lynn Richard Caffoe • James Cairns • Felix (Raymond) Calonge • Juan Cano • Cleve W. Carey • (Laurian) David Carriere • Michael J. Carroll (in Calif.) • Raul Carvajal Hernandez • Edward J. Casey • John Joseph Casey • Michael Joseph Casey • Willebaldo Castro • Camillus Cavagnaro • Vincent V. Cavalli • David Paul Chandler • Damien (Patrick) Chong • Gerald Chumik • Mario Cimmarrusti • Eugene J. Colosimo • Ozias Bailey Cook • Andres S. Corral • John V. Cosgrove • Patrick J. Cotter • R. David Cousineau • Daniel J. Cremins • Sean Cronin • Angel Cruces • Jose Luis Cuevas • Christopher Cunningham • Wallace J. Daley • John H. Dawson • John P. Deady • Donald DeFore • Harold J. DeJonghe • Harold F. DeLisle • James Devaney • Joseph B. Di Peri • William L. Diamond • Arwyn N. Diesta • Frederick Dittmar • Michael Son Trong Doan • Dan Dobbins • Edward J. Dober • Roger Doherty • John B. Doherty (Dougherty) • James E. Dolan • Thomas J. Dove • Francis Dowd • Thomas Duffin • Donald J. DuFour • Albert Joseph Duggan • Joseph Dunne • Donald Duplessius • Sebastian C. Elanjimannil • Andrew Gabriel Encinas • Thomas Patrick English • Mark Epperson • Mark A. Falvey • Clint Farabaugh • Donald G. Farmer • John V. Farris • Charles George Fatooh • Gerald Faue • Arthur (Arturo) N. Fernando • Walter Fernando • Gerald B. Fessard • James J. Fitzpatrick • Thomas Q. Fitzpatrick • Patrick Flannery • Vincent Stephen Flynn • George Foley • James Michael Ford • Dominic T. Gaioni • George Michael Gallagher • Jesus Garay • Christobal Garcia • Peter E. Garcia • Ramon Garcia • Richard Francis Garcia • Sergio E. Garcia • Denis Ginty • David F. Granadino • Philip L. Grill • James Grimes • Matteo (Mateo) Guerrero • Roderic M. Guerrini • George A. Gunst • Vincente Guzman • John Joseph Hackett • Clinton Vincent Hagenbach • Bernard Brian Hanley • Michael Joseph Haran • Paschal Hardy • Charles Harman/Harmon • Richard A. Hartman • Thomas E. Havel • Benjamin Hawkes • Gerald Heather • Richard Allen Henry • Alfred Hernandez • Stephen C. Hernandez • Patrick J. Hill • William Hollinger • Michael A. Hunt • John J. Hurley • Richard Hurley • Joseph James • Melvin P. James • Luis Jaramillo • Tilak A. Jayawardene • Emmanuel Jimenez-Pelayo • David (Dave) E. Johnson • Anthony Juarez • Robert Jesus Juarez • Stephen Kain • Philip Kavanaugh • Christopher Kearney • John Keeney • Matthew H. Kelly • Patrick M. Kelly • John M. Kenney • John F. Killeen • Sister Mary Joseph Killeen • Thomas F. King • Bruce J. Klikunas • Frank Kohlbeck • John Kohnke • Gustave R. (Gus) Krumm • Sylvio Lacar • Michael Lalor • Timothy R. Lane • David LaPierre • Fergus Lawless • Modesto Leon • Jerold W. Lindner • Theodore Llanos • Charles Loofborough • Richard A. Loomis • Joseph Lopez • Fernando Lopez Lopez • Larry Lorenzoni • Lawrence Joseph (LJ) Lovell • Denis Lyons • Juan Macias • Eugene MacSweeney • Roger Mahony (Bp) • Eugene A. Maio • Sylvester E. Mancuso • Thomas Reon Paul, Jr. Marshall • James Aloysius Martin • Ernest Martinez • Ruben D. Martinez • Richard M. Martini • Leonardo G. Mateo • Francisco Mateos • Charles Patrick Mayer • Vincent McCabe • Kevin McCarthy • Forrest McDonald • Daniel McDonough • Thomas McElhatton • James McGloin • Seán John McGrath • Patrick McHugh • Martin McKeon • Patrick H. McNamara • Jose Mejia Gonzales • Jose J. Mendez • William P. Messenger • Louis L. Meyer • Titian Jim (Athos) Miani • George Michael Miller • John Dennis Mitchell • Vincent Molthen • Alfred J. Monte • Michael Andre Moody • Raymond D. Morales • Ralph Murguia • Francis J. Murphy • Joseph L. Murphy • Daniel J. Murray • Jeffrey Newell • Michael Stephen Nocita • Cyril wankwo • John F. O’Byrne • Charles W. O’Carroll • Donal P. O’Connor • Patrick O’Dwyer • James F. O’Grady • Mark O’Leary • Martin O’Loghlen • Thomas E. O’Rourke • Javier Ochoa • Samuel Orellana Mendoza • Gary Pacheco • Mario Pacheco • Michael P. Pecharich • Daniel P. Peck • Robert H. Peguero • Amado Pena • Francisco Javier Perez • James Person • Louis V. Pick • Joseph D. Pina • Bernard Thomas Pleimann (Plieman) • Gerald John Plesetz • Stanislaus Poon • Thomas A. Porter • Joseph/Josef Prochnow/Procknow • Patrick Purcell • John C. Quatannens • Celestine Quinlan • Eleuterio Ramos • Joseph Franklin Reagan (Regan) • Patrick Reilly • Terence John Reilly • Nicholas Reina • Loren Riebe • James Richard Robinson • Ernest Rodie • Carlos Rene Rodriguez • Michael M. Roebert • Donald Patrick Roemer • William Roper • Fidel Rosas Flores • Dorian G. Rowe • Efrain Rozo Rincon • George Neville Rucker • Joseph Francis Ryan • Thomas Ryan • Alexander Salazar • Armando Salazar • John Anthony Salazar-Jimenez • Gabriel Salinas • Jose L. Sanchez • Juan Francisco Sanchez • Manuel Ontiveros Sanchez • Lawrence Sandstrom • Juan (John) Santillan • Sister Agnes Santomassimo • Richard Satterthwaite • Arulappan Savrianandam • Emmett Gilroy Schaller • Maurice Scheier • George M. Scott • Louis Selmo • Avdon (Audon) Serratos • Joe Sharkey • Joseph F. Sharpe • John R. Shepherd • Edward E. Shimmaly • Fidencio Simon Silva-Flores • Francis (Raymond E). Simon • Michael Sintef • Robert William Spader • Stephen Emmett Specialle (Speciale) • Matthew Michael Sprouffske • Joseph Stadtfeld • Louis G. Stallkamp • Thomas J. Sullivan • Carl Maurice Sutphin • Joseph Tacderas • Santiago L. Tamayo • Lukas Bao Teluma • Raymond (Jose) Tepe • Michael Terra • Tom Thing • Vance Zebulon Thorne • Carl D. Tresler • Valentine Tugade • Jerome Turba • Jose I. Ugarte • Christoper Van Liefde • Vincent Van ter Toolen • Pedro Vasquez • John Verhart • Henry Xavier Vetter • Gillmero Nemoria Villa Gomez • Ernesto Corral Villaroya • William S. Vita • Rudolph T. Vorisek • John H. Wadeson • James Joseph Walsh • Thomas Warren • Francis J. Weber • Wilfred Weitz • Michael Edwin Wempe • Gerald Wertz • John W. Wishard • Philip Mark Wolfe • G. Patrick Ziemann (BP)
John Bradley • Tod D. Brown (Bp) • Hermy Dave O. Ceniza • James Collins (in Fresno) • Raul Diaz • John Esquivel • Miguel Flores • Benjamin Gabriel • Robert Gamel • Louis Aloysius Garcia • Craig Harrison • Anthony G. Herdegen • Vincent A. O’Connell • Eric Swearingen
Phillip Abinate • Alberto (Orlando) Battagliola • Stuart Bede Campbell • Marcos Capistran Chavira • Thomas Condon • Antonio Cortes • Edward Crews • Patrick Daly • Vincent Dwyer • Juan Carlos Esquivel • Carl Faria • Edward Fitz Henry • Luis Garcia • Edward T. Haskins • Manuel Jimenez • Gregory Kareta • Scott McCarthy • Michael McDonald • Albert (Alberto) Mengon • Gilbert Meyer • Felix Migliazzo • Charles L. Moore • Thomas Neary • Colman O’Connor • Joseph Pacheco • John Pierson • Joseph Sheehan • Paul R. Valdez • John Velez • James Wisecaver
Jeffrey N. Acebo • Thomas Duong Binh-Minh • Vincent Ignatius Breen • Donald Eugene Broderson • Kenneth J. Cabral • Alexander Q. Castillo • James A. Clark • Phillip Colloty • Hilary Cooper • Virendra Coutts • George E. Crespin • Sidney J. Custodio • Pearse P. Donovan • Dennis Duffy • Donald W. Eagleson • Joseph A. Ferreira • Patrick Finnegan • George J. Francis • Robert E. Freitas • Adrian Furman • William S. Green • Joseph (Jesse) Gutierrez-Cervantes • Stephen M. Kiesle • Ronald J. LaGasse • Tarcisio D. Lanuevo • Cornelius P. Leehan • Gary M. Luiz • Bede McKinnon • Daniel McLeod • Hector David Mendoza Vela • Joaquin Moreno • Lawrence O’Brien • William Odom-Green • Robert F. Ponciroli • James E. Prindeville • Arthur A. (Arturo) Ribeiro • Anthony Slane • Gary B. Tollner • Ramon Varela • John Vas • Francis Verngren • Stephen (Steve) Whelan • Gordon Wilcox • Terrence Wong
Andrew Christian Andersen • Sofronio A. (Pon) Aranda • Gregory Atherton • Lawrence J. Baird • Franklin Buckman • Santino Casimano (Casamino) • John V. Coffield • Richard Delahunty • Sinon F. Falvey • Robert Foley • Michael A. Harris • Bertrand W. Horvath • Edgardo Arrunataegui Jimenez • John Knoernschild • John Peter Lenihan • John “Jack” W. Lord • Alexander Manville • Thomas Joseph Mohan • Dominic Nguyen • Gordon John Pillon • Timothy Ramaekers • Luis Eduardo Ramirez • John (Jon) E. Ruhl • Cesar Salazar • John A. Sheahan • Gerardo Jarencio Tanilong
Thomas G. Allender • Alejandro Arroyo • Gerardo Beltran Rico • Mario Blanco • Edward Boyle • Vincent Brady • James Casey • Robert Casper • Andrew Coffey • Malachy Conway • Hector Coria Gonzales • Pablo Cortes • John Crowley • Rodolfo Delgado • Thomas Dermody • John Dowling • Arthur A. Falvey • William Feeser • Oscar Figueroa • J. Patrick Foley • Francisco Javier Garcia • John Hannan • Jerome M. Henson • David Hernandez Cota • Francisco Hernandez-Tovar • William B. Hold • Michael Lynch • Jesus Magallanes • Robert (Bob) Marsicek • James Mennis • Vito Mistretta • James Thomas Monaghan • Jorge Moreno • Cornelius F. O’Connor • Uriel Ojeda • Z. Enrique Perez • Vernon Petrich • Jose Antonio Pinal Contellanos • Mario Blanco Porras • Michael Prouix • William Storan • Simon Twomey • Jose Luis Urbina • Murrough Wallace • Michael Walsh • Michael Walsh (California) • John “Casper” Watts
Saul Ayala • Edward Lawrence Ball • Roberto Barco • Joseph Bell • Gustavo Benson • Michael Bucaro • Alejandro Jose /Alex Castillo • Peter Covas • Owen da Silva • Daniel De Dominicis • Jesus Dominguez • Robert J. Donat • Kevin Dunne • Clifton Raymond Etienne • Joseph (Joe) Fertal • Anthony Martinez Garduno • Rudi Gil • Maximiliano Gomez Macouzet • J. Ernest/Ernest J. Hayes • Joseph Jablonski • Dennis Raymond Jost • Timothy F. Keppel • Robert Kurilec • Peter H. Luque • Peter McCormick • Howard Melzer • Paul Nguyen • Joseph R. Nunez • Louis G. Perreault • Esteban Trujillo • Bernard Waltos
John Beatty • James T. Booth • Sister Bridgette • Robert Buchanan • Arthur Carrillo • Jose Chavarin • Edito D’Amora • John Joseph Daly • Nelson Damasco • Luis Eugene De Francisco • Donald F. Doxie • Brent Eagen • Herman Francis Flynn • Michael French • Rudolph Galindo • James A. Ganahl • Paul Gill • Michael Higgins • Gary Michael Holtey • Richard L. Houck • Patrick J. Hughes • John Charles Keith • Robert S. Koerner • Adalbert (Albert) J. Kowalczyk • William Armstrong Kraft • Lawrence Kurlandski • George Lally • Justin Langille • Michael Victor Marron • Peter Joseph Marron • Malachy M. McGinn • Patrick Carl McNamara • Mark/Marc A. Medaer • Ricardo Mejia • Thomas Moloney • Paolino Montagna • Robert Daniel. Nikliborc • Patrick J. O’Keeffe • Emmanuel O. Omemaga • Daniel Polizzi • Nicholas Reveles • Franz Robier • Edward Anthony Rodrigue • David Roll • Joseph (Jose) Rossell • William R. Savord • Edward Augustine Sheehy • Gregory Sierra Sheridan • William D. Spain • Matthew J. Thompson • Victor Uboldi • William Valverde • Barry Vinyard
Peter Gomez Armstrong • James W. Aylward • Theodore Baquedano-Pech • Salvatore Billante • Roberto Bravo • Daniel E. Carter • Edmond G. Cloutier • Arthur Manuel Cunha • Bernard Dabbene • Harold Danielson • Charles Durkin • Hal Ellis • John P. Heaney • Gregory G. Ingels • Austin Peter Keegan • Daniel T. Keohane • Jerome Leach • Epiphanius Lewis • Philip E. McCrillis • John Moriarty • Guy Anthony Murnig • William S. Myers • John J. O’Connor • Patrick J. O’Shea • Dan (Danilo) Pacheco • Richard P. Presenti • Miles O’Brien Riley • Carl Anthony Schipper • Wellington Joseph “Brother Stan” Stanislaus • Jose Superiaso • Henry J. Trainor • Leo Donald Tubbs • Robert M. Van Handel • Milton T. Walsh • Peter Yost
Thomas Bettencourt • Edward Thomas Burke • Charles Leonard Connor • Joseph Dondero • William C. Farrington • Don D. Flickinger • Robert A. Gray • Arthur Harrison • Laurent Largente • Alexander C. Larkin • Angel Crisostomo Mariano • John Rodrigues Moniz • George Moss • Leonel C. Noia • Joseph T. Pritchard • Noel Senevirante • Phil Sunseri • Hernan Toro • Benedict Van der Putten
Anthony Bolger • John J. Brenkle • John S. Crews • Patrick Gleeson • Patrick A. Hannon • Michael Emmet Kelly • Donald Wren Kimball • Patrick Joseph McCabe • John A. Meenan • Francis E. Neville • Vincent O’Neill • Francisco Xavier Ochoa • Ted Oswald • Xavier Pallathuparambil • John K. Rogers • Wilfred L. Sheehy • Alfredo Sobalvarro • Gary Timmons • James Walsh • Bernard (Bernie) Ward • Ron Wiecek
Francis Arakai • Antonio Camacho • Didacus (Didachus) Clavell • Murty M. Fahy • Julio Cesar Guarin-Sosa • Michael E. Kelly • Editho Mascardo • Antonio Munoz • Oliver Francis O’Grady • Oscar (Oskar) Pelaez • Eduardo Perez Torrez • Leo Suarez • Ferdinand (Fernando) Villalobos

Diocese of Rochester Bankruptcy: What It Means for Abuse Survivors

By Leander James

What happened?

On September 12, 2019, the Diocese of Rochester, NY, filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy. As a non-profit corporation, it had the choice to file bankruptcy to deal with mounting lawsuits brought by survivors of clergy sexual abuse or to fight them in state court. It chose to file bankruptcy.

What is Chapter 11 bankruptcy?

Chapter 11 is a form of bankruptcy that allows the corporation to continue to operate provided it pays its creditors with available assets. In a Catholic diocese bankruptcy, this means that the diocese can continue to function, but it must gather together all the money, insurance and other available assets it has to compensate clergy sexual abuse victims. In its filing, the Rochester Diocese disclosed it has at least $50 to $100 million in assets. Dioceses often understate their assets when they file bankruptcy, so in our view, the assets available to compensate abuse survivors will likely be much greater.

Does the Diocese of Rochester bankruptcy mean the Diocese has no money to pay abuse survivor claims?

Absolutely not. Just the opposite; the Diocese has money, insurance, and other assets to substantially compensate survivors. Sexual abuse survivors who may have a claim and who want justice should file their claim in the bankruptcy case. Claims timely filed in past bankruptcies have resulted in significant settlements, and there is every reason to believe the same will occur in this bankruptcy.

Who may file a claim?

Any person sexually abused as a child (under the age of 18) at any time within the Diocese of Rochester by a priest, deacon, nun, brother or diocesan layperson may have a claim. Any person sexually abused as a child outside the Diocese by anyone acting for the diocese, including a diocesan priest or deacon, may have a claim. Others may have viable claims. When in doubt, a survivor should consult a knowledgeable attorney to determine their potential rights.

Is a bankruptcy claim confidential?

In past Catholic bankruptcy cases, judges have ordered that the identity of abuse survivors who file claims must be kept confidential. There is every reason to believe the confidentiality of claimant identities will be maintained in this bankruptcy. Further, the bankruptcy case is typically more confidential than a state lawsuit.

Why file a claim?

For empowerment, healing, justice, and meaningful compensation. In our experience, bringing a child sexual abuse claim is empowering and helps the survivor to heal from the past. None of us can wash away bad things that happen to us as children, but we can heal and move on. Bringing a claim furthers that process. Another reason to bring a claim is “strength in numbers.” The more claimants who come forward, the greater the strength of the abuse survivors in bankruptcy to obtain monetary compensation and non-monetary terms for the protection of children.

What can abuse survivors accomplish through bankruptcy?

Survivors can and should expect to accomplish a great deal in bankruptcy. They will be represented by a Creditor Committee of abuse survivors who will direct the bankruptcy litigation and ultimately negotiate a settlement. Settlements in past bankruptcies have included not only tens of millions of dollars to compensate abuse survivors, but have importantly included non-monetary terms for the future protection of children and respect of abuse survivors. A good example of this type of settlement is the Northwest Jesuit bankruptcy, where the settlement provided for $161.1 million for abuse survivors and required the Jesuits to adhere to 23 non-monetary demands. You can learn more about that settlement here: https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2011/mar/26/jesuits-to-pay-victims-of-abuse/.

How do abuse survivors file their claims in the Bankruptcy?

Abuse survivors file their claims in the bankruptcy court by filing a “Proof of Claim” document. In most cases, the attorney will file this document for the survivor. The Proof of Claim should be filled out fully and correctly. It must be filed before the “Bar Date”—the deadline set by the court for the filing of proofs of claim. The proof of claim document in this case has not yet been created. One will be approved by the bankruptcy judge, then made available to abuse survivors (claimants). The bar date in this case has not yet been set. The judge will determine the bar date after notice to all parties who will have an opportunity to present their arguments to the judge regarding the appropriate date to use.

What is the attorney’s role in bankruptcy?

Attorneys who represent abuse survivors protect their client’s rights and shepherd their claim through the bankruptcy process. Representation includes working with the attorney for the creditor (survivor) committee to assure the diocese and its insurance companies amass all available money required under the law to compensate abuse survivors. Our representation additionally includes advocating for the respect of abuse survivors and non-monetary changes for the protection of children, because we have found over the years that our clients want to achieve these goals, and we strongly believe in them. What should I look for in an attorney to represent me? An abuse survivor should look for an attorney whom they trust and who has experience in Catholic bankruptcy cases. There are many types of attorneys out there, but very few have been through Catholic bankruptcies before. Knowledge of that process, in our view, is essential for effective representation.

If you believe you may have a claim, contact us today for a confidential consultation regarding your rights in the Diocese of Rochester Bankruptcy.

Changes in New Jersey Law and a Victim Compensation Program Bring New Hope to Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse

By Daniel Keyes

Photo of Roman Catholic Church (outside)On Friday May 10, 2019, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill into law that expands the state’s statute of limitations for civil sexual abuse claims. Most notably, the bill creates a two-year window for victims of sexual abuse to bring claims against their perpetrators, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. This new law goes into effect on December 1, 2019.

What this new law means for victims of child sexual abuse is that they now have the opportunity to seek justice against their abusers, and potentially organizations that allowed the abuse to occur, through the civil court system even if the abuse occurred decades ago. The ability to bring such claims against perpetrators of child sexual abuse is often a vital part of the healing process for the survivors. Additionally, actions against organizations that allowed the sexual abuse to occur are necessary to cause those organizations to change and update their policies to prevent such horrible acts from occurring in the future.

In what is most certainly a response to the new two-year New Jersey window statute described above, the Archdiocese of Newark and the Dioceses of Camden, Metuchen, Trenton and Paterson finalized a program funded by the Catholic Church designed to compensate victims of child sexual abuse by clergy.

The program, entitled the Independent Victim Compensation Program or IVCP, allows individuals to file claims against diocesan priests. Claims are then reviewed by Kenneth R. Feinberg and Camile S. Biros, who have been hired by the dioceses and given authority to independently evaluate claims and offer compensation to victims in exchange for a release from the victim.

Registration for all claimants in the IVCP program opened on June 15, 2019, and claimants must register with the program no later than October 31, 2019.

The IVCP program described above is completely optional and its claimants have the ultimate choice to accept any award offered or reject an award and pursue their claims through the civil court system.

While there are pros and cons to seeking justice in both the civil court system and the IVCP, the ability to file a claim in either system, or ultimately in both, is a welcomed opportunity for victims of child sexual abuse. The opportunity allows victims to achieve justice, receive some level of compensation, further their healing process, and protect current and future children from abuse.

Our attorneys have successfully represented hundreds of victims of child sexual abuse in civil court and various victim compensation programs throughout the United States. If you are a victim of child sexual abuse, our attorneys are ready to help you navigate the available avenues of justice and find healing.

Diocese of Rochester Ends Its Compensation Program

The Diocese of Rochester issued a statement on March 14th, 2019 stating that it would no longer accept new applicants for its reconciliation and compensation program. James, Vernon & Weeks, P.A. has represented most of the survivors of clergy abuse who have used this program to resolve their claims without costly litigation. This news does not foreclose other legal options available to survivors.

https://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/2019/03/14/catholic-abuse-rochester-diocese-ends-child-priest-abuse-compensation-program/3164407002/

If you are a survivor of clergy abuse and would like more information on what claims may be available to you, please contact us.

Sex Abuse Expert Discusses the Challenges of Coming Forward

By Craig Vernon

Having represented many hundreds of survivors of sexual abuse, the attorneys at JVW applaud this reporting explaining why survivors do not report sexual abuse or wait to report until much later in life.  Understanding this phenomena is important to parents to protect their children and for all of us to realize that so many people are suffering in silence because of horrific abuse suffered as children or early in live as a vulnerable adult.   When survivors come forward, let us listen, and not ask “why did it take so long.”

CBS – “‘No’ is the easiest lie to tell”: A child sex abuse expert on the challegnes of coming forward:
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/sex-abuse-expert-on-the-challenges-of-coming-forward/