(WIVB) – The Diocese of Buffalo has taken legal action to stop lawsuits filed under the Child Victims’ Act from moving forward.

The Diocese recently filed an adversary proceeding.

Currently, all of the lawsuits against the Diocese are frozen because it’s in bankruptcy. However, lawsuits that name a parish or school are only stopped temporarily because the parish or school is not in bankruptcy, meaning that they could still go to trial.

Attorney Steve Boyd told News 4 that this action is meant to freeze the cases so that they don’t reach the courtroom.

“For example, if there’s a lawsuit filed against the Diocese and “John Doe” Parish, the John Doe Parish can now move forward,” Boyd explained. “The Diocese does not want that to happen because in that case, we will be able to get through the discovery process to see the secret files they don’t want us to see.”

The Diocese responded to News 4 this afternoon saying:

“The Diocese of Buffalo has pursued Chapter 11 reorganization because it believes that this approach offers a just and equitable resolution for all of victim-survivors. While the process continues, any lawsuits against the Diocese are halted to allow the Diocese and its creditors to come to agreement on settlement terms. The action that the Diocese recently filed is intended to provide the same ‘breathing spell’ for parishes, schools and other Catholic entities in the hopes of achieving a global resolution.   

We believe the stay is further warranted for the following reasons:  

  • The Diocese believes that addressing all claims in one forum is the best way to achieve a fair resolution for all victim-survivors. 
  • Pausing litigation will allow for all parties to engage in settlement negotiations in the context of the Diocese’s Chapter 11 case and to attempt to reach a global resolution of all claims (including claims against parishes and schools), without the distraction of piecemeal litigation.
  • Continued litigation against the parishes, schools and other entities will potentially dissipate insurance coverage that the Diocese and those other entities share, and would reduce the insurance proceeds available to cover claims against the Diocese that it is committed to resolving through the Chapter 11 process.
  • Pausing further litigation allows for a fair and equitable treatment of all abuse claims.  Without the stay, the first litigants to obtain a judgment would inevitably receive an outsized recovery and would exhaust insurance coverage for later victim-survivor claims.”

The Diocese tells News 4 priests with substantiated allegations will keep pension.