LAWSUIT JUDGMENT COULD BANKRUPT DIOCESE

     DALLAS (CWN) - Lawyers for the Diocese of Dallas said on Friday that a record $119.6 million civil lawsuit judgment given final approval last week may bankrupt the diocese if two insurance companies fail to pay off on its policies.

      A jury last year ordered the diocese to pay the judgment to 11 former altar servers who claimed the diocese was negligent in not preventing a former priest from sexually abusing them. The diocese today published financial records in the newspaper Texas Catholic. The diocese says it has less than $1 million in cash reserves, about $6 million in other assets, and liabilities of $3.2 million.

      Lawyers for the plaintiffs dismissed the claims, saying the total should include churches, schools, Catholic Charities, the Texas Catholic newspaper, and diocesan cemeteries. The diocese disputes the assertion, saying that those properties are held in the name of Bishop Charles V. Grahmann, as a corporation sole. The diocese has filed suit to force two insurance companies to pay the judgment.

      Diocese Chief Financial Officer Michael Weis told The Dallas Morning News it is possible the diocese will have to declare bankruptcy, if the suits fail.

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January 28, 1998 volume 9, no. 20          DAILY CATHOLIC