.- A Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge who is attempting to work out a settlement between the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego and sex abuse plaintiffs has asked the diocese to refrain from filing for bankruptcy until a second negotiation session can be held on Friday.
Judge Anthony Mohr made the request Monday after a negotiating session between lawyers for the diocese and the plaintiffs. However, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, nearly six hours of negotiations on Monday failed to produce a deal to settle about 150 lawsuits brought by adults alleging they were molested by priests in incidents dating to the 1950’s.
Bishop Robert Brom has said that the diocese might be forced to file for Chapter 11 reorganization in the face of the numerous lawsuits, the first of which could begin as early as Wednesday.
Following the day of negotiations Judge Mohr summoned both sides into his courtroom, saying that he still held out hope that a settlement could be reached.
Mohr strongly urged Michael Webb, the diocese's lead counsel, to refrain from filing for Chapter 11 protection, noting that the trial in the first lawsuit could be postponed as settlement talks continued.
“We are at the point where I am still slightly encouraged,” Mohr said, adding his opinion that more discussions could yield a settlement.
Webb responded that he'd have to take it up “with the bishop and the committee who advises him on these matters.”
A bankruptcy filing by the diocese would halt litigation of four lawsuits scheduled for trial between now and June 1, as well as nearly 60 others that a judge has declared are ready to proceed.