Clergy Abuse New Orleans
NEW ORLEANS — The plaintiff in a Catholic clergy sex abuse lawsuit halted by the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ federal bankruptcy filing is seeking to have his case moved back into state court in hopes of continuing to pursue his claims.
In a filing late Tuesday, the plaintiff’s attorneys argue that the suit revolves around matters of state law and therefore should be transferred back to Orleans Parish Civil District Court rather than handled in the federal system.
It is the first time a clerical molestation claimant has asked to return his case to state court and advance it since the archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 1. The bankruptcy automatically stayed more than two dozen unresolved clergy abuse lawsuits filed in Orleans Parish civil court, which the archdiocese separately moved to the city’s federal courthouse.
The lawyers for the plaintiff, who sued anonymously, argued that moving a case like his to the federal system may have been little more than shopping for a more favorable forum, which they say is not reason enough for the switch. To support this point, the lawyers pointed to the involvement in the bankruptcy case of an attorney, Douglas Draper, who apparently first tried to represent a committee mostly comprised of molestation survivors but ultimately aligned himself with the church.
According to the attorneys for the plaintiff, Draper at one point sent a memo to the plaintiff’s attorneys advising them that federal judges may be more likely to rule that such clerical molestation cases are invalid because they were filed too long after the alleged molestation occurred.