Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Awards limited
Bills introduced to limit amounts of awards in sex abuse cases
By Frank Gerace

Two state lawmakers Tuesday introduced bills aimed at keeping monetary awards in priest sex abuse cases from bankrupting Catholic parishes and schools.

House Bill 20 would cap damages awarded in civil lawsuits brought under the Child Victims Act of 2007 to 250 thousand dollars, and House Bill 21 would exclude pre-judgment interest from those awards.

The Child Victims Act repealed the statute of limitations in civil suits relating to child sex abuse cases and gave litigants a two-year window during which to file suit.

Since the Act was passed, more than 150 lawsuits have been filed during the two-year window, and a 3-million-dollar award was granted in a case involving Saint Elizabeth's Parish.

Wilmington Democrat Helene Keeley says if Saint Elizabeth's and other Catholic churches and schools are forced to close their doors, the negative effect on their communities would be staggering.

Brandywine Hundred Republican Greg Lavelle says without a limit on damage awards, the Child Victims Act will continue to have what he calls "unintended and unprecedented consequences".

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