Saturday, April 01, 2017

Montana Diocese Files for Bankruptcy

As reported by the Great Falls Tribune, the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings (Montana) yesterday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  The filing grows out of settlement negotiations in a suit that was filed in 2012 by 72 survivors who suffered sexual abuse as minors from priests over the course of several decades. A press release from the Diocese says in part:
On March 31, 2017, the Diocese is filing a chapter 11 reorganization case before the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Montana to fulfill a pre-bankruptcy mediated negotiated agreement with known abuse survivors and the Diocese’s liability insurance carrier.
Bishop Michael W. Warfel and the Diocese have chosen a pastoral approach which provided the basis for its having entered this confidential mediation process. The recent mediation resulted in the beginning stages of general parameters of proposed settlements with the victims and the insurance carrier. The details of that comprehensive agreement are still being worked on by the parties. Under the supervision and ultimate approval of the Bankruptcy Court, the diocese and its insurance carrier would both contribute to that comprehensive settlement, which would compensate the currently identified victims. There will be additional settlement funds for additional and unknown victims. The process of obtaining Bankruptcy Court approval included the opportunity for victims and creditors to vote on the proposed settlement. The Diocese expects that its reorganization will be expedited by the pre-bankruptcy negotiations with all the affected parties.