Class Action Filed Against Archdiocese
Bolstered by a Philadelphia grand jury report released this past fall, a proposed class of local alleged priest sex abuse victims are seeing if the Eastern District will give them what Pennsylvania's appellate judges have not: a day in court.
A large number of Pennsylvania plaintiffs who sued their archdioceses in state courts have consistently lost statute-of-limitations battles before the Superior Court, and the state Supreme Court has declined to reconsider.
Stewart Eisenberg of Eisenberg Rothweiler Winkler Eisenberg & Jeck, who represents the plaintiffs in Magnum v. Archdiocese of Philadelphia, acknowledges that his clients will face a tough battle in federal court over the statute of limitations issue.
When the Philadelphia grand jury report was released, District Attorney Lynne Abraham suggested that the General Assembley consider lengthening the statutes of limitations for various offenses allegedly at play in the majority of priest sex abuse cases.
But those changes haven't come yet, not to mention the potential fight over retroactive applicability.
"I would hope that whoever is assigned this case would take a different look at it than the Superior Court did," Eisenberg said.
He noted that a number of common pleas judges in counties across the state had found in favor of plaintiffs whose actions were later deemed untimely brought.
But in addition to the claims already raised before the state courts, such as fraudulent concealment, the Magnum plaintiffs are asserting that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has violated RICO and civil conspiracy laws.
The Philadelphia's grand jury report forms the basis for many of the allegations contained in the Magnum complaint.
Eisenberg said he's personally never moved to introduce a grand jury report into evidence, but hopes that it will be viewed as would an investigative report from, for example, a local police department or the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
The archdiocese's defense counsel, C. Clark Hodgson Jr. of Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, declined to comment.
–Asher Hawkins, Staff ReporterExplore posts in the same categories: Uncategorized