POSTED: 8:29 am PST January 27, 2005
UPDATED: 8:45 am PST January 27, 2005
LOS ANGELES – Three insurance companies have sued the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, accusing Cardinal Roger Mahony of refusing to share information about alleged sex abuse by priests, it was reported Thursday.
The insurers have asked a judge to order him to provide documents that could be used to defend the church or to relieve them of liability stemming from allegations by more than 535 people who say they were molested by priests since the 1930s, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“For whatever reasons, the archbishop’s apparent goal is to obviate any meaningful disclosure of the facts and circumstances of these claims, and yet to pressure (the insurers) to contribute enormous sums of money” to settle the cases, according to the lawsuit.
“They have full access to the files,” responded Mahony’s lead lawyer, J. Michael Hennigan, according to The Times. “They are supposed to be on our side.”
Hennigan denied the Los Angeles Archdiocese was uncooperative and accused insurers of trying to delay efforts to settle the cases without the time and expense of holding trials and lengthy investigations into the claims, called discovery.
“They don’t want to settle anything or even talk about settlement without full discovery. Do the math here. We have 550 claims,” Hennigan told The Times. "What do you think full discovery means? What decade will that be finished in?"
The 12-page complaint was filed by three members of American International Group Inc., The Times reported. They are the Insurance Co. of the State of Pennsylvania, Granite State Insurance Co. and American Home Assurance Co. They provided coverage for the church in the 1970s.
More than $1 billion in damages could be assessed against the church, the insurance companies stated in the lawsuit, according to The Times.