The now closed and demolished Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s, Nfld. Register file photo

St. John’s victims to start seeing money next month

  • May 8, 2024

The 369 plaintiffs who filed abuse claims against the Archdiocese of St. John’s are slated to receive their first disbursement on June 29.

Global Resolutions Inc., the Toronto-based mediation company assigned as claims officer, required two additional months from the previous April 30 deadline to finish evaluating each application. The organization’s five-member adjudication panel is examining cases of abuse at Mount Cashel Orphanage during the 1940s, ’50s or ’60s or at the hands of St. John’s clergy.

In 2020, the Court of Appeal of Newfoundland and Labrador deemed — and the Supreme Court of Canada later upheld — the Archdiocese’s episcopal corporation “vicariously liable” for the abuse inflicted at Mount Cashel when the Christian Brothers of Ireland, the operators, went bankrupt in 2011. The ruling forced the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John’s (RCESJ) to file for bankruptcy in December 2021 and begin liquidating assets.

Paul Torrie, president of Global Resolutions Inc., wrote the case’s court monitor, George Kinsman of Ernst & Young, on April 8 that stated there are two lingering matters “beyond the claims officer’s control” that could potentially delay the proceedings even further.

“The first involves estate issues, relating to claims by estates of deceased abuse claimants,” wrote Torrie. “The second involves financial reconciliation issues, relating to prior payments to abuse claimants and releases and indemnities executed by abuse claimants as a term of prior payments.”

Individuals who filed on behalf of a deceased abuse claimant have received Requests for Information (RFIs) from Global Resolutions Inc. The company is seeking documentation that proves the submitter of the application has the statutory authority to serve as a testamentary representative. Torrie wrote in the letter to Kinsman that “we are concerned that further delay in responding to the RFIs will delay the completion of the adjudication of estate claims beyond June 29, 2024.”

Regarding the financial reconciliation issues, Global Resolutions Inc. expects each claimant declare any prior payments they received on account of alleged abuse as it is standard protocol for the claims officer to deduct that value from the forthcoming compensation. Potentially, plaintiffs who filed a claim might have received money related to the Christian Brothers U.S. bankruptcy proceedings, the Canadian winding-up process of the Christian Brothers or via private legal actions, likely against the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

A court appearance was scheduled for May 10 to determine a protocol for verifying prior compensation.   

To date, the RCESJ has raised more than $44 million for abuse victims: the sale of 88 properties has netted nearly $26.5 million; there are 25 additional real property sales worth $4.86 million with deals yet to close; and the corporation is expected to finalize an agreement with the province and the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District by May 31 where the RCESJ gives up its remaining right, title and interest in 38 schools in exchange for $13 million.

Geoff Budden, lead counsel for the plaintiffs, has said multiple times the RCESJ would need to present $50 million to sufficiently compensate the victims, but the 369 applications was more than expected.

“I did use that number, but with the number of claimants who came out that number may no longer be adequate,” said Budden. “We’ll know in June when the valuations come back. They are subject to appeal, but in an insolvency that is not a common thing. ... If it’s higher then we need more money.”

There are 17 properties — six still in use by the archdiocese and 11 not in use — with a combined listing value of $3.3 million, but these are not generating substantial market interest.

All parties are also examining the legal battle between the archdiocese and its former insurance company. Intact Insurance “has denied coverage for claims arising from sexual abuse under its policies on the basis of misrepresentations and/or nondisclosure of relevant facts by the RCECSJ.” The RCESJ is disputing this position. A resolution is anticipated later this year.

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.