The attorney representing the plaintiffs in more than 50 clergy child sex abuse cases filed in federal court announced yesterday he would be filing a motion to stay his clients' cases as he enters negotiations for possible out-of-court settlements with the Hope and Healing program.
Attorney David Lujan is representing dozens of named and unnamed plaintiffs who have accused former archdiocese clergy including priests and bishops, the Boy Scouts of America and the Archdiocese of Agana as a whole of either perpetrating, aiding or abetting the sexual abuse of minors from as far back as the 1950s up to as recently as the 1980s. Lujan told District Court Magistrate Judge Joaquin Manibusan yesterday that he would be filing for a stay sometime next week.
Lujan reported that Hope and Healing's goal is to settle all the cases by Sept. 1. However, given the short period of time between now and the start of September, he added that if settlement talks began and his clients were satisfied with the result, he feels it would not matter whether all of the cases had been completely resolved by then.
"As each case is evaluated and settled, some I expect will settle and some I expect may not settle because perhaps the offer that is being given is not enough," Lujan said. "It depends on the particular plaintiff."
Representing the Archdiocese of Agana, attorney John Terlaje said he could not comment on the potential settlements as they will go through the Hope and Healing program – an independent entity apart from the archdiocese.
Just this past Wednesday, members of the Hope and Healing board were introduced to the media, and board chairwoman Alicia Limtiaco said members would be meeting for the first time later that evening. During Wednesday's press conference, Hope and Healing Program Director Mike Caspino also reported it was the goal of the program to resolve all the cases by the end of the summer.
While most of the cases Lujan is prosecuting seek damages in the amount of $10 million, now that he is considering settlement negotiations with Hope and Healing, Lujan said the method used to determine just how much his clients will settle for will likely consider the particulars of each case.
"I expect there will be different factors as to how to value their pain and suffering," he said. "So my expectation is it will be based on the type of abuse, the frequency of the abuse, the level of the abuse, how far back and of course the effect the abuse has had on the particular plaintiff."
Lujan also reported that if reached, settlements details will likely remain confidential and the public will only learn whether a settlement has been reached or not.