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Judge sets deadline for parties in church sex abuse cases

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To date, close to 150 clergy sexual abuse lawsuits have been filed in the local and federal courts. While the majority have showed interest in settlement, there could be some dealbreakers ahead. The local court giving those uncertain parties a deadline to figure it out, or go to trial.

Will majority of the clergy sexual abuse lawsuits be settled out of court? That depends if parties can agree on pre-mediation protocol. The Court, during a status hearing on Tuesday, hoping to push parties along. Superior Court Judge Michael Bordallo said, "The reality is dates tend to get people to move."

That day is January 16.

By then you're committed to settlement or you prepare for trial. Church attorney John Terlaje reporting the majority appear to be agreeable to pre-mediation terms, saying, "About 95% of the cases are involved in this pre-mediation protocol."

The remaining plaintiffs, Terlaje reports, are the 11 represented by attorney Anthony Perez. Perez said, "It's not that we're not on board. It's just that we've been working on it for four months. We've had meetings in Hawaii. Meetings in Minnesota. Non-stop emails. And from three months or four months ago to today, nothing's been accomplished."

So, what appears to be the deal breaker? Terlaje said, "The biggest issue is if there's going to be an individual mediation or there's going to be a group mediation. If the one group stays out and doesn't want to do the mediation and they insist on individual mediation, so be it."

Judge Bordallo advised parties he'd lift a partial stay for those who couldn't meet in the middle on terms, noting, "What I will do is I will order the parties that are not going forward or don't have an agreement by mid-January to submit a scheduling order."

Bordallo added, "We can't hold back a portion of the plaintiffs because they're not participating in the mediation and say you have to wait until the mediation is done with everyone else - it puts the defendants in an interesting situation, but there's nothing we can do about that. And that's the way it has to be."

Other plaintiffs' attorneys, meanwhile, reporting settlement is likely.

Attorney Michael Berman stated, "I'm optimistic, cautiously, that all this will go according to plan - we will be in mediation by march. If it's not March, it'll be shortly thereafter, in April or May." And Attorney Kevin Fowler said, "My group is very flexible in the points that have been a sticking point 0758 and we feel we can work it out."

Perez said, "We negotiated mediation in good faith. We submitted a joint plaintiffs'' proposal, which was rejected; if the other parties are fine bending on issues to go for the mediation, then that's up to them. Just to be clear, we're not foreclosing the possibility of mediation."

Parties who do agree to pre-mediation terms will get to work as early as January.

Attorney Patrick Civille is the local attorney for the Boy Scouts of America Aloha Council, stating, "The last instructions I've had from our lead counsel, part of the mediation protocol will be taking sworn statements or mini depositions from plaintiffs, and they've advised me that they need to start gearing those up to begin in January.

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