A federal appeals court upheld the dismissal of a claim in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee bankruptcy filed by a sex abuse victim who settled with the church.
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled John Pilmaier's attorneys didn't support their client's assertion that the archdiocese lied to him to induce him to sign the $100,000 settlement in 2007, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Tuesday.
Pilmaier is one of about 90 individuals with prior settlements who filed claims in the bankruptcy, alleging they were misled during settlement talks with the archdiocese. The appellate decision focused on whether the alleged misrepresentation affected his decision to sign the settlement agreement, not on whether the archdiocese misled Pilmaier, which was the legal standard applied in other similar court actions, the Journal Sentinel said.
While disappointed by the decision, Pilmaier said he was glad his case brought attention to the archdiocese's mediation program, which he said preyed on vulnerable survivors.
"Catholics should be particularly concerned that their church is comfortable lying to and deceiving the people they have hurt the most, the victims of clergy sexual abuse and their families," he said.
Pilmaier's attorney, Jeffrey Anderson, who represents most of the 575 people with child sex abuse claims in the bankruptcy, said he wasn't likely to appeal.
"That's something we're still deciding," Anderson said. "But the only appeal is to the U.S. Supreme Court, and it's highly unlikely that the court would hear the case because it is such a fact-specific determination."
The archdiocese said each claim dismissal brought the archdiocese closer to emerging from bankruptcy.