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Church Abuse Lawsuits

Church Abuse Lawsuits filed on behalf of abused victims have soared in recent years as the nationwide scandal has highlighted the terrible actions of individual priests and dioceses and religious orders covering up abuse cases to save their own image and public standing.

Some church institutions have filed for bankruptcy protection, however, being so inundated with church abuse lawsuits. Settlements have already totaled more than $3 billion, with hundreds of more sexual abuse cases still pending.

The Catholic Church has been at the center of the church abuse scandal, and there are over 8,500 recorded settlements with assault survivors abused by a member of the clergy.

In 2007, the church settled a case for $600 million on behalf of 221 priests and other church staff accused of abusing over 500 people. Attorneys have said still only a fraction of the total number of sexual abuse victims have come forward, and even fewer have filed lawsuits.

Even though not all cases are able to compensate victims due to statute of limitation laws, attorneys and safety advocates argue it’s important to still file lawsuits and hold church leaders accountable for their negligence in sexual abuse cases.

Joe Lyon is a highly-rated Ohio personal injury lawyer representing plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of Sexual Assault and Cincinnati church abuse lawsuits. 

Church Abuse Settlements

After years of litigation, the Catholic Church has agreed to a $60 million settlement following the alleged sexual abuse of more than 100 Haitian boys. The settlement will be paid by Fairfield University, the Society of Jesus of New England, the Order of Malta, American Association, USA, Haiti Fund, Inc., Father Paul E. Carrier, S.J., and Hope E. Carter.

The boys were allegedly sexually assaulted by convicted pedophile Douglas Perlitz at a school in Haiti. Not long ago, the same defendants paid $12 million to settle similar claims brought by 24 young men assaulted by Perlitz.

As part of the settlement agreement the lawsuits will be converted into a class action lawsuit and settlement, which will allow other Perlitz sexual abuse victims to file a claim and seek compensation.

Numerous claims in the last two decades have brought to light the dire and widespread sexual abuse scandal that has affected thousands of victims in the U.S. and throughout the world. The Catholic Church failed to stem the abuse, and in many cases, the Church protected and relocated pedophiles.

As a result, Catholic Church Abuse Lawsuits are mounting, and settlements can fetch very large awards for plaintiffs seeking compensation. Victims of church abuse can come forward and file claims against individuals and the organization as a whole for providing safe havens for sexual predators for decades.

Contact a Church Abuse Attorney for a free and confidential consultation. The Lyon Firm works with plaintiffs to obtain rightful compensation following Catholic Church Abuse.

Church Abuse Lawsuits Filed in New York

The New York Diocese of Brooklyn reached a $27.5 million settlement with four sexual assault victims—men allegedly abused as boys by a church educator. Each victim received $6.875 million from the diocese and will remain anonymous.

Sexual Abuse Allegations in Pennsylvania

In August, a grand jury stated more than 300 Catholic priests sexually abused children in the state of Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania sexual abuse report detailed accounts of priests accused of abusing over 1,000 children over the last 70 years.

The image of the Catholic Church has suffered with the church abuse crisis. Church abuse lawsuits have targeted dioceses and religious orders, and valuable diocesan assets are vulnerable in ongoing cases. The church institutions in question have substantial cash, stocks, and real estate, in addition to insurance coverage.

In addition to priest abuse cases, attorneys are reviewing Boy Scout sexual abuse cases for victims and plaintiffs nationwide.

Can I File a Church Abuse Lawsuit?

Due to Ohio statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases, victims may or may not be able to file claims in courts. Ohio’s statute of limitations for rape is 20-25 years, depending on circumstances.

The time limit on prosecuting other felony sex crimes is as little as six years. Charges for misdemeanor sex crimes such as groping and fondling must be filed within two years, and civil lawsuits must be filed within one to two years.

The huge wave of church sexual allegations has lawmakers considering changing the sex abuse statute of limitations in Ohio. Ohio has old laws, like many states, however, Ohio’s statute of limitations are tighter than other states.

Church Abuse Statute of Limitations

The prevailing legal perspective is that the Catholic Church is difficult to sue and that laws protect the church, even when something as serious as sexual abuse is suspected.

However, the Catholic Church, individual defendants and related institutions can be held responsible following church abuse incidents. The Catholic Church has paid out large settlements over the last 70 years and will continue to settle lawsuits in order to protect their own interests.

Of church abuse survivors who report their abuse, their average age is over 50. Filing lawsuits can bring some relief and closure for sexual abuse victims. Pennsylvania passed a bill in 2017 that would eliminate the criminal statute of limitations and raise the cutoff age to file a civil lawsuit, but the bill eventually stalled. Ohio victims would benefit with a similar measure.

Other bills suggested would eliminate criminal and civil statutes of limitations as well as provide a two-year window from the day the law goes into effect for victims to sue for past sexual abuse.

Delaware has been a model for these change in sexual assault laws. The state eliminated the criminal statute of limitations for all child sex abuse in 2003.

When it comes to allowing victims of sexual abuse and rape to seek justice, Ohio’s laws have their limitations. The Ohio governor has advocated changing the sex abuse statute of limitations laws to be more in favor of victims.

Victims of Catholic Church sexual assault can pursue legal action and file church abuse lawsuits to seek compensation for severe emotional distress and to protect America’s children into the future. Plaintiffs can remain anonymous.

photo of attorney Joe Lyon reviewing church abuse cases
A Voice for Those who have suffered

Why are these cases important?

Sexual abuse cases result through no fault of the injured party, yet the injured victim suffers from life altering physical, mental and financial losses. Such economic and human losses can have devastating financial consequences on individuals and families if not properly compensated. Tort law allows those individuals to seek just legal recourse through personal injury lawsuits.

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Questions about Church Abuse Cases

What is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Any kind of negligence by an individual or company that causes injury or harm can lead to filing a personal injury lawsuit. The amount a plaintiff is entitled to depends on several factors, particularly how egregious the act and how serious the injury.

Personal injury attorneys generally only will take cases on a confidential and contingency fee basis, which means your lawyer will only get paid if he or she is able to reach a settlement or positive verdict. The Lyon Firm will review your case for free and assess what compensation any plaintiff can expect through litigation.

Personal Injury cases can range from minor auto accidents to complex lawsuits filed against large corporations. The Lyon Firm has handled both with equal care. Severe injury requires legal action on occasion, no matter if the injury is the result of a vehicle accident, a dog bite, a boating accident, workplace injury, defective consumer products, medical malpractice, or toxic exposure.

What is the Process?

Pre-Suit Investigation and Negotiations: Personal injury lawsuits are unique and require a thorough investigation before a lawsuit is filed. An initial investigation involves gathering all relevant medical records, accident reports, and interviews with available witnesses.  Preservation letters are drafted to notify the defendant of the case. The duty to preserve electronic evidence is critical in most cases to prevent spoliation.

Filing a Lawsuit in Cincinnati: If pre-suit negotiations are unsuccessful, then a lawsuit must be filed to preserve the statute of limitations.  Filing a lawsuit early in the process is often necessary to begin gathering evidence while the witnesses memories are fresh and documents remain available.

Once suit is filed by your personal injury lawyer, the court will set a case management schedule and the parties will begin exchanging information in the formal process of discovery. Depositions will be taken to preserve testimony for trial and to understand what certain witnesses are likely to say at trial.

Proving Negligence, Causation and Damages: In addition to lay witness testimony and other documentary evidence, personal injury claims rely upon medical and scientific evidence to prove negligence, causation and damages. The chosen expert in a case must have a reliable and sound basis in science and in the facts of the case or his opinion may not be admissible under the rules of evidence.

In the areas of Toxic and Environmental Torts, the admission of expert testimony may be scrutinized harder than in other areas simply because the subject may not have been as widely tested and may rest on novel scientific theories.

Are there any limits to what I can recover?

Each state will vary. Under Ohio law, an injured party may recover damages related to medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, loss of enjoyment of life, past pain and suffering, future pain and suffering, and punitive damages. The numerical limits are as such:

  1. Non-Catastrophic Injury:   The non-economic award is limited to $250,000 per plaintiff, or three times the economic loss, up to $350,000 per plaintiff. A maximum of $500,000 for each “occurrence.”
  2. Catastrophic Injury: No limits.

The Lyon Firm may be able to file injury claims and recover rightful compensation for clients for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost earnings and long-term disability.

Why should I hire The Lyon Firm?

Our Firm will help you find the answers.  The Firm has the experience, resources and dedication to take on difficult and emotional cases and help our clients obtain the justice for the wrong they have suffered. 

Experience:  Joe Lyon is an experienced Cincinnati Personal Injury Lawyer. The Lyon Firm has 17 years of experience and success representing individuals and plaintiffs in all fifty states, and in a variety of complex civil litigation matters.   Personal Injury lawsuits can be complex and require industry experts to determine the root cause of an accident or injury.  Mr. Lyon has worked with experts nationwide to assist individuals understand why an injury occurred and what can be done to improve their lives in the future. Some cases may go to a jury trial, though many others can be settled out of court.

Resources/Dedication: Mr. Lyon has worked with experts in the fields of accident reconstruction, biomechanics, epidemiology, metallurgy, pharmacology, toxicology, human factors, workplace safety, life care planning, economics, and virtually every medical discipline in successfully representing Plaintiffs across numerous areas of law. The Lyon Firm is dedicated to building the strongest cases possible for clients and their critical interests.

Results:  Mr. Lyon has obtained numerous seven and six figure results