Massachusetts’ Supreme Court will consider whether a law that caps liability damages against charities is constitutional. The law, enacted over a century ago and amended in the late 60s, caps maximum damages that can be awarded in a lawsuit to $20,000, as long as the damages occurred as part of the normal charitable work of the organization. Unfortunately, the law now protects multi-million dollar corporations, like massive health conglomerates with endowments that only contribute a tiny portion to the bottom line. Most states have already jettisoned such outdated laws, although the Mass. Legislature hasn’t got around to it. Maybe all the medical industry lobbyists hanging around the Statehouse can explain it.
How does this affect the Church? Becuase some people suggest the Archdiocese of Boston may try to cap liabilities under the law if cases go to trial. It would be very tricky to prove that any of the abuse or coverup occurred as part of the Church’s normal charitable activity, but some cases might get through.
I hope the law is overturned. It’s a bad law a it would be bad for the Church if the archdiocese were able to use it. Better that our lawyers not be tempted to use it.