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Judge, survivors sign off on Gallup Diocese settlement

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Victims of predatory priests and workers with the Diocese of Gallup have finally agreed to and won a multi-million dollar settlement for their claims, a federal judge ruled this morning.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David T. Thuma in May approved a plan for the payments, but the plan had to be approved by a vote among claimants.

James Stang, a Los Angeles attorney who represents 57 claimants in the case, said in May that he anticipated his clients would approve the proposed settlement.

And on Tuesday, Thuma announced in court in Albuquerque that the victims did approve the plan. The agreement will provide an estimated $350,000 per claimant, though amounts likely would vary depending on circumstances.

Thuma formally sanctioned the settlements before a courtroom filled with attorneys and some of the survivors.

The largest share – $11.55 million – will be provided by the Catholic Mutual Relief Society of America, a nonprofit that insures many Roman Catholic dioceses. Catholic Mutual insured the diocese from 1977 to 1990, when some of the abuses occurred.

The Diocese of Gallup will contribute $3 million and may have to sell its chancery offices in Gallup, subject to the terms of a loan agreement with a bank.

In addition to abuse claims, the settlement also will pay for legal and professional costs that totaled more than $3.5 million through Dec. 30.

The two primary law firms agreed to a $416,000 reduction in fees, according to the disclosure statement.

Journal staff writer Olivier Uyttebrouck contributed to this report.

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