Latest legal tab in church bankruptcy case  $827K; abuse survivors receive $0 so far

PROPERTY: The former Accion Hotel-turned former Redemptoris Mater Seminary property in Yona, seen in this 2019 photo, has been unused for years. It initially received an offer of $6 million in an August 2019 auction but the buyer backed out. A new offer was reported in December 2019. Post file photo

A new round of attorneys' fee requests in the Archdiocese of Agana's bankruptcy case reached about $827,000 as the parties continue settlement talks so that nearly 300 survivors of clergy sex abuse can receive compensation from the church.

The prior rounds of legal and professional service fees reached $1.5 million to $1.75 million.

Five law firms, including one based on Guam, have submitted billings for services rendered this year from April 1 to July 31.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood is scheduled to consider the firms' third interim fee application.

The money to pay lawyers, along with other professionals providing services in the bankruptcy, is drawn from the Archdiocese of Agana's assets.

As more fees are paid out, the amount that will be split among the survivors of clergy sex abuse and other creditors diminishes.

The U.S. Trustee's Office and the committee representing clergy sex abuse survivors and other creditors have been closely monitoring the administrative costs of the bankruptcy case, and share the court's concerns regarding accruing legal expenses.

The survivors, meanwhile, are still waiting for any compensation from the archdiocese.

The archdiocese's settlement offer for survivors is about $21 million, which the survivors found unacceptable, Post files state.

At least two of the law firms have adjusted their third legal fee application as a result, and the judge's review could further reduce the costs.

Leo Tudela, chairman of the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, initiated a subcommittee to review and provide detailed and timely feedback on the attorneys' monthly invoices.

Some firms' billing meters started ticking even before the archdiocese filed its Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Jan. 16, 2019, to settle the clergy sex abuse claims now at more than $1 billion.

The latest interim billings, inclusive of fees and expenses, for April 1 to July 31, 2020 are:

• $379,972, Stinson LLP, creditors committee counsel, revised numbers.

• $209,206, Elsaesser Anderson Chtd., archdiocese counsels; revised numbers.

• $162,015 Patterson Buchanan Fobes & Leitch Inc., archdiocese special counsel.

• $35,800, attorney John Terlaje, archdiocese counsel.

• $28,019, Blank Rome LLP, archdiocese special insurance counsel.

• $12,075, attorney Paul Richter, special insurance counsel for creditors.

Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

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