Church bankruptcy legal fees climb to $ 6 million | Guam News
While the clergy sexual abuse claimants await compensation, the Archdiocese of Agana has been billed and paid around $ 6 million in professional fees, mostly from law firms hired by the church and its creditors in the case of the Virginia bankruptcy laws of the archdiocese.
The amount includes invoices that Chief Justice Frances Tydingco-Gatewood of the District Court of Guam previously approved for law firms, accounting firms and real estate professionals since 2019, based on a review documents filed in Virginia bankruptcy laws court.
The church and the creditors’ committee have hired dozens of lawyers who each charge $ 250 to $ 750 an hour. The $ 750 is a reduced rate offered for the Guam case – the original rate was $ 1,025 per hour, according to Virginia bankruptcy laws court documents.
This week alone, five law firms filed their seventh claim for interim compensation, while a sixth law firm filed its first billing claim with rates of up to $ 395 per hour.
For expenses and services rendered from August 1 to November 30, 2021, the six law firms are seeking court approval of their latest billings totaling over $ 637,000.
- $ 265,551: Stinson LLP, the Minnesota-based attorney for the Official Committee on Unsecured Creditors, including clergy sexual abuse claimants and other creditors. The court previously awarded the law firm more than $ 2.3 million, but a portion has yet to be paid by the archdiocese.
- $ 172,375: Elsaesser Anderson Chtd., Lawyer for the Archdiocese based in Idaho. The court had previously awarded him nearly $ 1.2 million, but a portion has yet to be paid.
- $ 136,529.39: Patterson Buchanan Fobes & Leitch, Special Adviser to the Archdiocese. The court had previously awarded him $ 575,309.
- $ 34,675: Guam lawyer John Terlaje, Archdiocesan lawyer. The court had previously awarded him $ 226,352.
- $ 23,475: Blank Rome LLP, Archdiocesan Special Insurance Advisor. The court had previously awarded him $ 211,640.
- $ 4,520: Hiller Law LLC, special advisor to the Creditors Committee, in particular in the Delaware Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy case. This is the first time that the law firm has filed a request for fees.
The bankruptcy court has also previously ordered payments to other professional services firms involved in the bankruptcy proceedings, including Davis & Davis PC, the Archdiocese’s Special Immigration Council; and Deloitte & Touche LLP, the archdiocese’s accounting firm.
Among those who also previously received payments from the Archdiocese for work related to bankruptcy cases were the law firms of Paul Richler, special insurance adviser to the creditors committee; Cornerstone Valuation Guam Inc., real estate appraiser and consultant for the Creditors Committee; Keen-Summit Capital Partners LLC, Additional Real Estate Agent for the Creditors Committee; and Re / Max Diamond Realty, real estate agent for the Archdiocese.
The archdiocese pays the fees of lawyers representing both the church and the creditors committee. This is in addition to the amounts contained in the competing reorganization plans of the two parties for the Archdiocese.
In addition to growing legal fees for the Archdiocese, the church faces a challenge with its revised compensation plan for some 270 people who claim to have been raped, sexually abused or assaulted by priests and other clergy in Guam dating from the 1950s.
The archdiocese has offered to pay up to $ 34.38 million to survivors of clergy sexual abuse, while the creditors committee seeks a minimum of $ 100 million and real estate.
Guam’s clergy sex abuse scandal exploded in 2016, when former altar boys from Hågat publicly accused then Archbishop Anthony Apuron of raping or assaulting them in the 1970s.
The Vatican investigated and later convicted Apuron for assaulting several minors and stripped him of his title. Dozens of other Guam clergy have been accused of child sexual abuse.