Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Perpetual Care Trust Funds Shielded From Archdiocese's Creditors In Bankruptcy-- Corrected

AP reports that a Wisconsin federal court on Monday ruled that $50 million in a cemetery perpetual care trust fund is unavailable to creditors, including abuse victims, in the bankruptcy reorganization of the Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese. The funds came from sale of cemetery lots and mausoleums.  In a statement yesterday, the Archdiocese said:
Because these funds were held in trust as prescribed by Canon Law, they were independent of the general assets and could only be used for their intended and pledged purpose – to care for the resting places of the departed as sacred places under Canon law. As the Judge said, “removing some or all of these funds from the trust and placing them in the bankruptcy estate would undoubtedly put “substantial pressure” on Archbishop Listecki to “modify [his] behavior” and “violate [his] beliefs.”
UPDATE AND CORRECTION: The decision is In re Archdiocese of Milwaukee is at 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106392, (ED WI, July 29, 2013). Contrary to the earlier version of this post, the decision is one of the district court reversing a bankruptcy court's earlier decision. And here is a non-Lexis source for the full opinion.