A group of Massachusetts legislators is proposing an end to the charitable immunity cap for lawsuits involving child sexual abuse. Under current state law, non-profit groups have a $20,000 liability limit, which is designed to protect organizations that serve a community interest from damaging lawsuits.
Proponents of the change claim that “has discouraged sexual abuse victims from coming forward and has sharply limited payments in other cases.” That’s a smokescreen. The reality is that this is designed to further enrich plaintiffs’ lawyers who have been getting their standard one-third of settlement/judgment retainer from settlements far above the $20,000 limit. In fact, I can’t think of a single case in recent memory in which the $20,000 limit has come into play. Certainly not a case involving the Church, at whom this law is squarely aimed. In fact, all of the settlements so far, on a per plaintiff basis, have exceeded $20,000.
But with the Archdiocese of Boston starting to dig in its heels in the latest round of lawsuit settlement talks, the lawyers are probably getting worried that if they do indeed have to go to trial, they will get stuck by the charity cap. Instead of making millions more dollars off the suffering of abuse victims (and alleged victims), they’ll get a pittance. (One-third of the previous $85 million settlement is $28 million; one-third of $20,000 is about $6,700.)
And since lawyers with millions of dollars received from big judicial settlements have lots of money to donate to the campaign coffers of politicians ... you do the math.
Changing the statute of limitations
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