Behind the record $660-million settlement announced this week in the Los Angeles priest sexual abuse case is an uncomfortable reality, says the Los Angeles Times: Some people’s pain is worth more than others’. Divided by the 508 plaintiffs, the largest settlement in the nationwide abuse scandal amounts to an average of $1.3 million per person. Actual payouts will fluctuate considerably, with some victims receiving more than $3 million and some as little as $100,000. That’s before lawyers take their cut.
Determining who gets what amount was a wrenching process that involved hundreds of victims producing videotapes in which they recounted in detail the abuse and how it shadowed their lives. In the end, some of the payouts had little to do with what victims suffered. Key to determining the value of the cases was a host of legal factors such as how much notice the church had or should have had that the priest in question was an abuser, and whether there were other legal technicalities, like when the victim came forward and whether he or she had filed a previous lawsuit that was dismissed before the scandal exploded across the country. All you can do is measure the legal implications of your case,” said Raymond P. Boucher, the lead attorney for the victims. “If you are a victim in 1980 and you are the only victim [of that priest] and there are no witnesses and no documents  then your case, no matter how horrendous or hideous the abuse is, your case is going to be valued differently.” Plaintiffs attorneys get 40 percent of what their clients receive plus reimbursement for expenses such as deposition costs and fees from expert witnesses such as psychiatrists who evaluate a victim’s story.