U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel on Thursday granted the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul the extra six months it wanted on exclusive rights to file its reorganization plan, but he smacked down a request to hire more consultants — even at the discounted rate of $595 per hour.
The Archdiocese wanted to hire BRG Capstone to handle any possible future clergy sex abuse or other claims that people could file against it, even though the deadline for filing those has passed.
Certain groups of people, such as minors for instance, might argue that the deadline didn’t apply to them, the church argued.
BRG Capstone, a global consultant based outside San Francisco, estimated the job would take about $150,000.
Archdiocese lawyer Richard Anderson noted that many other archdioceses in bankruptcy have hired special teams to handle future claimants.
Kressel wasn’t having any of it.
“My reaction to that is the same as your mother’s would be,” Kressel told the courtroom.
Kressel declared the possibility of future claims “remote.” If people do come forward, they wouldn’t require special representation because they are already represented by the Committee of Unsecured Creditors, he said.
At Anderson’s request, Kressel agreed to issue an order making clear that anyone coming forward with a claim in the future would be fully represented by the Unsecured Creditors Committee.
Speaking to reporters afterward, Anderson said the order would provide the clarification the church wanted, and he was pleased.
Facing a landslide of clergy sex abuse clams, the Archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January. The squadron of high-priced advisers and lawyers the church has hired cost it $2.3 million from June through September, according to the latest monthly operating report filed in court.
This is the second extension the church has received on the exclusivity period for filing its reorganization plan — a period during which no one but the debtor can file such a plan. The new deadline is May 31, 2016. That is also when the Child Victim Act of 2013 sunsets, the law that opened a three-year period for people to bring any clergy sex abuse claims from the past to civil court.
The Archdiocese and its creditors and insurers continue court-ordered mediation.