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Full title: Opposition with Certificate of Service Filed by Apostolates (RE: (related document(s)927 Generic Motion filed by Creditor Committee Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors) Hearing scheduled for 7/22/2021 at 01:30 PM (check with court for location). (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit # 2 Exhibit # 3 Exhibit # 4 Exhibit # 5 Exhibit # 6 Exhibit) (Draper, Douglas) (Entered: 07/16/2021)
Document posted on Jul 15, 2021 in the bankruptcy, 20 pages and 0 tables.
Bankrupt11 Summary (Automatically Generated)
Reopening the already noticed and passed bar date for filing claims for sexual abuse would not benefit the estate or the creditors as it would delay the start of any mediation, cause additional cost and expense to the Debtor and delay the confirmation of a Plan and the payment to creditors who filed Abuse Proofs of Claim.On July 1, 2021, the Tort Committee filed its Motion to Reopen Bar Date asserting that certain claimants “who believed (or were advised) that their claims were prescribed” would not have filed a proof of claim.The single reference is in the Notice of Deadline for Filing Sexual Abuse Claims in The Roman Catholic Church of the Archdiocese of New Orleans Bankruptcy Case, in Section 3, which states: “You should file a Sexual Abuse Survivor Proof of Claim regardless of whether you … Believe the applicable statute of limitations may have run on your Sexual Abuse Claim…”10 The Tort Committee cries foul over the possibility that potential claimants may not have filed claims by the March 1, 2021 deadline based on the belief that their claims had prescribed.The quantification of claims can occur only after the claims are filed, quantified by the Debtor and the Tort Committee and any applicable insurer and, thus, any further delay in the filing of claims prolongs what has become a very expensive case and creates additional cost for no reason.
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Document ContentsUNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA In re: § § Case No. 20-10846 THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH OF § THE ARCHDIOCESE OF NEW § Section “A” ORLEANS, § § Chapter 11 Debtor.1 § § MEMORANDUM IN OPPOSITION TO THE OFFICIAL COMMITTEE OF UNSECURED CREDITORS’2 MOTION FOR ORDER REOPENING ABUSE CLAIMS BAR DATE FOR ADDITIONAL 60-DAY PERIOD Now into Court, through undersigned counsel, come the Apostolates, who oppose the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors’ Motion for Order Reopening Abuse Claims Bar Date for Additional 60-Day Period [Dkt. # 927] (the “Motion”). Reopening the already noticed and passed bar date for filing claims for sexual abuse would not benefit the estate or the creditors as it would delay the start of any mediation, cause additional cost and expense to the Debtor and delay the confirmation of a Plan and the payment to creditors who filed Abuse Proofs of Claim. The Tort Committee’s only argument for reopening the Sexual Abuse Claims Bar Date is the enactment of Act 322 into law on June 14, 2021, which ultimately may have the effect of reviving for a period of three years some abuse claims that had previously prescribed under La. R.S. 9:2800.9. While the Apostolates acknowledge the Louisiana legislature passed Act 322 in 1 The last four digits of the Debtor’s federal tax identification number are 8966. The Debtor’s principal place of business is located at 7887 Walmsley Ave., New Orleans, LA 70125. 2 To avoid confusion due to the existence of two committees, the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors will be referred to as the “Tort Committee” and the Official Committee of Trade Creditors will be referred to herein as the “Trade Committee.”
1an attempt to change the law, the fact is that, at the behest of the Tort Committee, the only mention made of a “statute of limitations defense” to an abuse claim in any material disseminated to potential abuse claimants was one directing potential claimants to ignore any such defense. In addition, a review of the web site for the Pachulski firm and the Herman, Herman & Katz firm reveals they are devoid of any reference to a statute of limitations defense to an abuse claim (a copy of the web site for the Pachulski firm is attached hereto as Exhibit 1 and a copy of the web site for the Herman, Herman & Katz firm is attached hereto as Exhibit 2). It is ironic that the Tort Committee whose language was accepted in the Bar Date package so that a potential abuse claimant could file a claim without the overhang of any statute of limitations defense would now contend that the language they drafted and which the Court accepted was confusing and warrants a reopening of the Bar Date period. Background On May 1, 2020 (the “Petition Date”), the Roman Catholic Church of the Archdiocese of New Orleans (the “Debtor”) filed a petition for relief under chapter 11 of Title 11 of the United States Code (the “Bankruptcy Code”). On July 1, 2020, the Debtor filed the Debtor’s Ex Parte Motion for an Order Establishing Deadlines for Filing Proofs of Claim; Approving Proof of Claim Form; and Approving Form and Manner of Notice Thereof (“Bar Date Motion”) [Dkt. #200] as supplemented. The Tort Committee responded by filing a Preliminary Objection of the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors to Debtor’s Ex Parte Motion for an Order Establishing Deadlines for Filing Proofs of Claim; Approving Proof of Claim Form; and Approving Form and Manner of Notice Thereof [Dkt. #202] and then The Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors’ Supplemental Objection to Debtor’s Ex Parte Motion for an Order Establishing Deadlines for Filing Proofs of Claims; Approving Proof of Claim Form; and
2Approving Form and Manner of Notice Thereof; Declaration of Jon R. Conte, Ph.D.; Declaration of Shannon R. Wheatman, Ph.D.; Declaration of Linda F. Cantor; and Declaration of Eric Johnson [Dkt #412] (together, the “Tort Committee Objections”). The Tort Committee Objections raised the following issues: A requested deadline date of March 31, 2021; Revisions to the notice and claim forms making them easier to understand and assuring confidentiality; and Expanded publication and noticing procedures to reach more people through both actual and constructive notice.3 On October 1, 2020, after lengthy negotiations between the Debtor, the Tort Committee, and the Debtor’s insurers, and a hearing before this Court, the Court entered its Order Fixing Time for Filing Proofs of Claims; Approving Proof of Claim Forms; Providing for Confidentiality Protocols; and Approving Form and Manner of Notice [Dkt. No. 461] (the “Order”) (Exhibit 3), granting the Debtor’s Bar Date Motion with the following stipulations: The Sexual Abuse Claims Bar Date was set at March 1, 2021; The Notice and Proof of Claim Form were available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese; The Tort Committee’s definition of “sexual abuse” was included to avoid legalese or any other confusing clinical terms that would not be understandable to a lay person; Actual notice was provided to: o All individuals who have filed or ever threatened in writing to file lawsuits against the Archdiocese, Parishes, Non-Debtor Catholic Service Entities, or Orphanages who allege Sexual Abuse. o All individuals known to the Archdiocese who contacted the Archdiocese or any Parish, Non-Debtor Catholic Service Entity, or Orphanage to report that they were Sexually Abused, whether or not that individual’s claim 3 The United States Trustee also filed an objection wherein he also requested an extended deadline for filing proofs of claim and a slightly expanded notice procedure to include a national publication. See Dkt. #340.
3was considered to be substantiated or unsubstantiated and whether or not the report was written or verbal. o All individuals known to the Archdiocese to whom payment or counseling reimbursement has ever been made by or on behalf of the Archdiocese or any Parish, Non-Debtor Catholic Service Entity, or Orphanage as a result of an allegation of Sexual Abuse, as well as all individuals who participated in any mediation or settlement process with the Archdiocese or any Parish, Non-Debtor Catholic Service Entity, or Orphanage but did not enter into a settlement agreement. o All individuals known to the Archdiocese whose names were given by an alleged abuser (“Alleged Abuser”), or by any third party during interviews, or as part of an investigation of Sexual Abuse to the Archdiocese, to any Parish, to any representative of the Archdiocese or Parish or to any Parish or diocesan and religious order priests and clergy in the Archdiocese or Parish. o All individuals that the Archdiocese or any Parish, or Non-Debtor Catholic Service Entity, or Orphanage has a record of who contacted the Archdiocese about their children or other children being in close contact with an Alleged Abuser or about some problem with the Alleged Abusers and their child or another child. o All individuals whom the Debtor has ever provided or referred to for counseling, spiritual direction, or therapy support related to Sexual Abuse. Constructive Notice was provided through the following means: o Aired ads on local television networks (ABC and CBS) and religious programming on WHNO TV in the New Orleans media market. o Published in 27 Local Newspapers in Louisiana, 1 newspaper in Texas, and 1 newspaper in Mississippi. o Published online, targeted nationally and in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and Georgia specifically. Notice was disseminated via social media (Facebook/Instagram) in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese, and was linked to a keyword search on Google, Bing, and other search partners. o National Press Release o Community outreach in Catholic Churches in Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi, U.S. Correctional Facilities, and Sexual Abuse Support Groups.4 4 Order, Dkt. No. 461.
4Of particular note to the Court is the dispute between the Debtor and the Tort Committee with respect to paragraph 10 of the Order approving the Bar Date. Attached as Exhibit 1-B to the Declaration of Linda F. Cantor, Esq. [Dkt. No. 412-3] (Exhibit 4) (the “Cantor Declaration”) is a redline of the difference between the Debtor’s proposed language and that of the Tort Committee. The Debtor’s proposed version of paragraph 10 contained the following language: “The Debtor shall retain the right to assert offsets or defenses including statute of limitations.”5 The order suggested by the Tort Committee and adopted by the Court deleted the statute of limitations reference and reads “including but not limited to any declinatory, dilatory or preemptory exceptions as may be applicable …”6 It is clear that both the Tort Committee and this Court did not want to chill the filing of abuse claims by the inclusion of any reference to the fact that abuse claims could be subject to a “statute of limitation defense.” (Compare Cantor Declaration to Order - Exhibit 3 attached hereto.) Other examples of the Tort Committee and the Court not wanting to chill the filing of claims by raising the specter of a statute of limitation defense are replete in the materials sent to creditors and advertisements by Tort Committee Counsel and lawyers with firms such as Herman, Herman & Katz. In sum, the Court at the urging of the Tort Committee took extensive 5 Cantor Declaration at p. 39 (emphasis added). 6 Id. (emphasis added).
5steps to have as many claims as possible filed without raising the threat of the statute of limitations. The Order also approved the various forms of Notice to be sent out to both known and unknown creditors. The Notice provided the following statements directing all potential claimants to file proofs of claim: “Regardless of how old you are today, if you have a claim for sexual abuse for which you believe the Archdiocese is or may be responsible, that occurred before May 1, 2020, you must file a claim in this bankruptcy case to preserve your rights.” Order at p. 46 (emphasis added). “You have the right to file a sexual abuse claim in this bankruptcy case if you were sexually abused by persons associated with the Archdiocese regardless of how old you are today.” Id., p. 47 (emphasis added). “You should file a Sexual Abuse Survivor Proof of Claim regardless of whether you … [b]elieve the applicable statute of limitations may have run on your Sexual Abuse Claim.” Id. at 48 (emphasis added). “You should submit a Sexual Abuse Survivor Proof of Claim regardless of your age now or the length of time that has passed since the abuse took place.” Id. at 48 (emphasis added). The Notice that was published in newspapers and online also had an express statement that any potential claimants should ignore prescription issues: “Regardless of how old you are today or when the sexual abuse occurred, you need to file your claim so that it is received by 5 p.m. (Central Time) on March 1, 2021.” Id. at 53. The Tort Committee points to a filing made by the Debtor in April of 2021. See Motion at ¶16. How this pleading created confusion in potential abuse claimants who had a March 1, 2021 Bar Date is a mystery. The pleading was filed after the running of the Bar Date and anybody who may have elected not to file a Proof of Claim due to a “yet to be filed pleading” would have had to be clairvoyant. It is interesting to note that paragraph 17 of the Tort Committee’s Motion does not contain any other example of the Archdiocese’s so-called public
6position that abuse claims were subject to a one-year prescriptive period prior to the running of the Bar Date. In addition to the Debtor’s efforts, there has been no shortage of newspaper articles, television news stories, and online stories covering the Debtor’s bankruptcy, and specifically, the Sexual Abuse Claims Bar Date.7 None of these stories stated that potential abuse survivors should not file a proof of claim if their claim had prescribed or had occurred too long ago. No reference exists to any potential statute of limitations defense. On July 1, 2021, the Tort Committee filed its Motion to Reopen Bar Date asserting that certain claimants “who believed (or were advised) that their claims were prescribed” would not have filed a proof of claim. Motion, Dkt. No. 927 at ¶ 12. The Motion contains a conclusory statement and support for the position cannot be taken from any material available to potential abuse creditors prior to the running of the bar date. Given the express instructions to claimants to file a claim regardless of how long ago the alleged abuse may have occurred and regardless of the current age of the claimant, it is not reasonable to suggest that any potential claimant would not have filed a claim on the basis of believing that the claim had prescribed. Furthermore, no attorney would read the Notice and advise someone not to file a claim given the clear language that was included at the insistence of the Tort Committee. 7 See, e.g. Vargas, Ramon Antonio, “People Alleging Sex Abuse by New Orleans Clergy Must Come Forward by March 1, Judge Rules” nola.com (September 17, 2020) Accessible at https://www.nola.com/news/courts/article_daef245c-f915-11ea-97d4-7f2966c79e1d.html. Last accessed on July 9, 2021; Hammer, David, “Court Sets March 1 Deadline for Claims of Sex Abuse by Priests” WWLTV.com (September 17, 2020) accessible at https://www.wwltv.com/article/news/investigations/david-hammer/court-sets-march-1-deadline-for-claims-of-sex-abuse-by-priests/289-d1a1429b-b3f9-496d-a320-9baf65d04545. Last accessed on July 9, 2021; Schubert, Kristi S., “New Bar Date for Claims in New Orleans Archdiocese Bankruptcy” Lamothe Law Firm (September 18, 2020) accessible at https://lamothefirm.com/2020/09/18/new-bar-date-for-claims-in-new-orleans-archdiocese-bankruptcy/. Last accessed on July 9, 2021; O’Connor, Shay, “Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse Have Until March 1 to file a claim against the Archdiocese of New Orleans” WDSU.com. Accessible at https://www.wdsu.com/article/victims-of-clergy-sexual-abuse-have-until-march-1-to-file-a-claim-against-the-archdiocese-of-new-orleans/35673347. Last accessed on July 9, 2021.
7Objection The Bar Date Notice and Publication Do Not Create Confusion The Tort Committee’s Motion should be denied because, given the clear language in the Bar Date package that was provided by the Tort Committee itself and sent to potential abuse claimants, there is no risk of confusion which would constitute “cause” under Fed. R. Bankr. P. 3003(c)(3) or “excusable neglect” under Rule 9006(b). Further, reopening the Bar Date would cost the estate untold thousands of dollars to reissue Notices to unknown claimants, thereby reducing the total amount of money available for payment to abuse claimants, and delay payment to those creditors who did file prior to the March 1, 2021 deadline. “Congress intended the bar date in a Chapter 11 case to be a mechanism for providing the debtor and creditors with finality.” In re Macmillan, Inc., 186 B.R. 35, 48 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. 1995), as amended (Aug. 10, 1995), as amended (Aug. 15, 1995). That is especially true in this case where a large portion of the claims against the Debtor arise out of the abuse claims. Prior to any mediation, the parties need to know the universe of claims. Once the universe of claims is known, the parties must then undertake the laborious process of analyzing the claims and determining the extent to which the filed claims are covered by insurance. The requested additional sixty days delays the ability of the parties to analyze claims in advance of mediation. The delay only increases the cost of the case to the Debtor which impacts the recovery to creditors. It is believed the cost alone of the mail out and the constructive notice plan to publicize the Bar Date and ensure that creditors were both aware of the Bar Date and did in fact file Proofs of Claim exceeded $600,000.00. The cost of the case is running approximately $850,000.00 per month for the Debtor, the Trade Committee and the Tort Committee. The issuance of the claims bar date is an essential feature of the reorganization process because it provides a date certain after
8which a plan can be negotiated, formulated, and eventually confirmed. The bar date is much more than a means to limit claims; it provides finality to a process that will ultimately lead to the rehabilitation of the debtor and the payment of claims under a plan of reorganization. See In re Drexel Burnham Lambert Grp. Inc., 151 B.R. 674, 679 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y.), aff'd sub nom and In re Drexel Burnham Lambert Grp., Inc., 157 B.R. 532 (S.D.N.Y. 1993). The Tort Committee’s assertion that they are merely asking for sixty days is disingenuous. The Tort Committee has not suggested how the new bar date, if granted by the Court, would be advertised, the notices that would go out or the language that would be included in the notices of the new bar date. Would the notice be merely constructive, or would the Court require a new search for actual known claimants? The cost of a mere sixty-day delay in this case would be in excess of $1,750,000.00. Add on top of that number the delays for the “how to implement issues” and the Tort Committee’s Motion would have a cost in excess of $2,500,000.00 to clear up an alleged confusion based upon language the Tort Committee requested the Court include in the Bar Date package and publication. The cost to the estate of an amount between $1,750,000.00 and $2,500,000.00 to protect potential creditors who ignored specific instructions to file claims would adversely impact the abuse victims who did file claims both in terms of the payment they will receive on their claims and when they can receive the payment. The Tort Committee has not pointed to the COVID 19 pandemic as a cause for reopening the Bar Date (presumably because the current Bar Date was established during the height of the pandemic and the pandemic was considered at that time). The case cited by the Tort Committee of In re Purdue Pharma L.P. is not on point since, in that case, the Debtor requested the extension. PG & E Corp. also is not relevant because the motion in that case was granted by consent. The Tort Committee has failed to advise the Court that similar motions based upon a
9legislative attempt to extend the prescriptive period were denied in cases involving the Dioceses of Rochester and Syracuse. While the case from the Diocese of Buffalo, In re Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y., 620 B.R. 445 (Bankr. W.D.N.Y. 2020), may appear to be similar given that it is a Diocesan bankruptcy and the bar date was extended, the Diocese of Buffalo case is significantly different. In that case, the debtor was seeking to set the bar date for claims for the first time. Id. at 449. Prior to the debtor’s motion, the New York legislature had already extended the statute of limitations for filing sexual abuse claims to August 14, 2021, seven months after the debtor’s proposed bar date, which was the date proposed by the committee of unsecured creditors in that case. Id. at 450. At that point in the Buffalo case, no bar date notice had been sent out at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars to the estate as is the case here. The Buffalo case is a published opinion where the Court undertook the same analysis as this Court did in entering its Bar Date Order and ruled on a dispute between the parties as to the first bar date in the case and not an extended bar date as requested by the Tort Committee. The case is not a judicial determination that a bar date period should be reopened pursuant to Bankruptcy Rule 3003 after the bar date period has run. More applicable is the case from the Diocese of Rochester, In re Diocese of Rochester, 618 B.R. 678 (Bankr. W.D.N.Y. 2020). In the Rochester case, the bankruptcy court set a claims bar date of August 13, 2020, which coincided with New York’s then extended statute of limitations. Id. at 680. The Diocese of Rochester, like the New Orleans Archdiocese, provided extensive notice of the bar date, and, also like here, numerous commercials and local news stories provided reminders of the deadline. Id. at 681. Subsequent to the setting of the bar date, the New York Legislature extended the statute of limitations for sexual abuse claims to January 14, 2021. The committee in that case, like the
10Tort Committee here, argued that the extension of the statute of limitations warranted resetting the claims bar date in the bankruptcy case. The bankruptcy court disagreed. [T]he noticing protocol approved by this Court—by which the Diocese was tasked with widely and repeatedly broadcasting notice of the claims bar date, in a manner designed to reach known and unknown abuse victims—was negotiated and carefully crafted by the Diocese, the Committee and the insurance carriers to maximize the reach of notice of the claims bar date. Immediately after the claims bar date was set and the noticing protocol was approved, the Diocese began repeatedly broadcasting notice of the claims bar date—together with information describing the mechanism by which sexual abuse victims can file proofs of claim either electronically or by mail. … The Court is convinced that the claims bar date noticing protocol is having its intended effect—reaching far and wide to give potential abuse victims notice of the claims bar date. … And, the attorneys specializing in representing victims of childhood sexual abuse, through their many daily television advertisements, have assisted in making it clear, to yet-unknown victims of childhood sexual abuse, that the claims bar date for this Chapter 11 case is August 13, 2020. Diocese of Rochester, 618 B.R. at 682. The court held that balancing the potential harm to unknown victims against the harm to the bankruptcy estate and those victims who had already filed claims, the prudent choice was to deny the committee’s motion. Id. at 682–83.8 The same analysis holds true here. The clear language in the Bar Date package and publication (advocated by the Tort Committee) contained only a single reference to a “statute of limitation defense” and the reference to such a defense in the Debtor’s draft of paragraph 10 was 8 See also, In re Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, N.Y., No. 20-30663 (Bankr. N.D.N.Y. Mar. 26, 2021) [ECF No. 432] wherein the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of New York denied a similar motion to extend the claims bar date (the “Syracuse Text Order”), attached hereto as Exhibit 5. The Notice approved in the Diocese of Syracuse case similarly excluded any mention of a statute of limitation defense and, notably, did not have the same express instructions to potential claimants to ignore any such defense. See Notice of April 15, 2021 Deadline for Filing Proofs of Claim, attached hereto as Exhibit 6.
11specifically deleted by the Court at the suggestion of the Tort Committee.9 The single reference is in the Notice of Deadline for Filing Sexual Abuse Claims in The Roman Catholic Church of the Archdiocese of New Orleans Bankruptcy Case, in Section 3, which states: “You should file a Sexual Abuse Survivor Proof of Claim regardless of whether you … Believe the applicable statute of limitations may have run on your Sexual Abuse Claim…”10 In other words, the onlyreference made to a statute of limitations defense was specifically telling potential sexual abuse claimants to ignore any statute of limitation defense. Significantly, just as the reference to a statute of limitations defense was specifically deleted at the suggestion of the Tort Committee, the language in the Notice stating that Claimants should ignore statute of limitation defenses was also added at the suggestion of the Tort Committee.11 This is in addition to the other statements included in the Notice telling potential claimants to ignore the length of time that has passed since their abuse occurred.12 The Tort Committee’s reliance upon In re Greenwich Society 471 BR 800 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. 2012) is also misplaced. In Greenwich Society, while the bankruptcy court agreed to extend the original bar date based on confusion in the original order, the motion ruled upon by the court in that opinion was a motion by certain limited partners to extend the bar date a second time past the already extended bar date, which the court denied. Id. at 807. The limited partners essentially argued, among other things, that despite the previous extension, their due process rights would be offended by not granting a second extension. In rejecting this argument, the court stated, “due process is not offended by denying distribution to the Purported Limited Partners. It is uncontested that they received notice of the Extended Bar Date, which 9 Order, at p. 6, and Cantor Declaration at p. 39. 10 Order Exhibit 3, Dkt. No. 461 at p. 48. 11 Cantor Declaration Exhibit 4 at p. 104. 12 See supra at pp. 5–6.
12unambiguously stated, in bold font and capital letters, that all interest holders must file proofs of interest by the Extended Bar Date.” Id. at 806–07 (emphasis added). The same circumstances are present here. The Notice contained in numerous places bold faced font directing that all claimants must file a claim by March 1, 2021, regardless of their age or when the alleged abuse occurred. In sum, the Tort Committee and this Court went to great lengths and took great effort to ensure that there would be no confusion and that all potential claimants would file proofs of claim regardless of any potential statute of limitation defense. The Tort Committee already voiced the same concerns that they are voicing now in the course of developing the Order and the Notice and those concerns were addressed in this Court’s Order. The enactment of Act 322, indeed, changed the law, but the language in the Order and Notice that the Tort Committee insisted on already fully addressed any confusion that the change could have possibly caused. No confusion exists in the Bar Date Order entered by this Court or in any Notices in this case. The language in the Notice set forth above is unequivocal in its instruction. You must file a proof of claim whether or not you believe the claim is barred by a statute of limitation defense. Given the clear language, there is no legitimate argument to be made that the failure on the part of an abuse survivor to file a proof of claim prior to the March 1, 2021 deadline would have been caused by excusable neglect as required under Bankruptcy Rule 9006(b)(1). “Excusable neglect is the failure to timely perform a duty due to circumstances that were beyond the reasonable control of the person whose duty it was to perform.” Jinil Steel Co. v. ValuePart, Inc. (In re ValuePart, Inc.), 802 F. App’x 143, 146 (5th Cir. Mar. 20, 2020) (unpublished) (quoting Omni Mfg., Inc. v. Smith (In re Smith), 21 F.3d 660, 666 (5th Cir. 1994)). The Fifth
13Circuit went on to outline the factors to be considered when determining whether “excusable neglect” exists. Those factors are: a) The danger of prejudice to the debtor; b) The length of the delay and its potential impact on judicial proceedings; c) The reason for the delay, including whether it was within the reasonable control of the movant; and d) Whether the movant acted in good faith. Id. at 146–47. Also outlined above is the fact that the delay caused by reopening the Bar Date would not be limited to sixty days as implied by the Tort Committee. Far from it, the Debtor would have to send out a second set of notices at the very least. It is unclear whether the Tort Committee would also request that the Court require the Debtor to conduct an additional round of due diligence to track down any potential additional known claimants who would be entitled to actual notice. Reopening the Bar Date would not add a mere sixty days; rather it would add many months, if not years, to this already prolonged and expensive case. The good faith of the Tort Committee in filing its Motion must be questioned on account of its crying wolf over the exact problem that it (successfully) fought so hard to avoid for the better part of 2020. The Tort Committee cries foul over the possibility that potential claimants may not have filed claims by the March 1, 2021 deadline based on the belief that their claims had prescribed. Yet the Tort Committee is responsible for the clear language that directs those same potential claimants to ignore any prescription issue and to file a claim anyway. In essence, the Tort Committee is now arguing that its own language inserted into the Order and Notice to tell potential claimants to file proofs of claim regardless of any statute of limitation defense is now asserting the language they insisted on in the various Notices and Orders was confusing.
14There are no grounds to find excusable neglect. It should also be noted that the excusable neglect reason for allowing late filed claims is traditionally applied to individual creditors who file individual late claims. Rule 9006 is not the appropriate avenue to grant a blanket reopening of the Bar Date, especially considering the fact that the relief provided in Rule 9006(b) will still be available to individual claimants who may come forward later. These cases, however, can be dealt with on a case-by-case basis without the need to further burden the estate and expend its resources to reissue the Notice and delay confirmation of a Plan and distributions to the creditors who did file timely proofs of claim. Reopening the Bar Date Could Have the Unintended Effect of Itself Creating Confusion Lastly, while the Tort Committee asserts that reopening the Bar Date would remove confusion, in fact, it could add confusion to the claims process. Several motions have already been filed in Louisiana State Courts moving to strike exceptions of prescription based on Act 322. For example, motions to strike exceptions of prescription have been filed in the following cases: Harry T. Doe v. Jesuit High School, CDC No. 2020-5419, Div. F, filed in Orleans Parish Civil District Court. TM Doe v. Society of the Roman Catholic Church of the Diocese of Lafayette, 15th JDC No. 2020-1777, Div. F. It is anticipated that oppositions to the motions to strike will be filed in both of these cases challenging the constitutionality of and the parties subject to Act 322. Additionally, in M.D. Doe v. Archdiocese of New Orleans Indemnity, Inc.; The Roman Catholic Church of the Archdiocese of New Orleans; the Catholic Mutual Relief Society of America; Cabrini High School, Inc.; and Deacon George Felder Brignac, pending in the Eastern
15District of Louisiana, Civ. No. 21-00477, which was removed to the Eastern District from the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, defendant Cabrini High School, Inc., filed a Motion to Dismiss, asserting, among other things, that the plaintiff’s claims had prescribed. In the event that the Bar Date is reopened and additional claimants file Abuse Claims, what is to happen to those claims should Louisiana State Courts ultimately hold Act 322 unconstitutional or that it does not apply to certain claims? Are those claims to be automatically disallowed for having missed the Bar Date making all of this an exercise in futility? As stated above, the purpose of establishing a bar date in a bankruptcy case is to accomplish a sense of finality. As shown here, reopening the Bar Date would accomplish anything but finality and would delay an already far too expensive process. Conclusion The Apostolates recognize that, in order for the creditors and the Archdiocese to reach a consensual Plan, the claims possessed by the abuse victims must be known and quantified. The quantification of claims can occur only after the claims are filed, quantified by the Debtor and the Tort Committee and any applicable insurer and, thus, any further delay in the filing of claims prolongs what has become a very expensive case and creates additional cost for no reason. Notice was determined to be proper and sufficient by this Court and this Court’s Order cannot be attacked after the fact, especially given that the sole basis for the Tort Committee’s Motion is a claim of confusion that was already protected against. For these reasons, the Apostolates believe that the Tort Committee’s Motion should be denied. Dated: July 15, 2021. Respectfully submitted: /s/Douglas S. Draper Douglas S. Draper, La. Bar No. 5073
16Leslie A. Collins, La. Bar No. 14891 Michael E. Landis, La. Bar No. 36542 HELLER,DRAPER &HORN,L.L.C. 650 Poydras Street, Suite 2500 New Orleans, LA 70130-6103 Telephone: 504.299.3300/Fax: 504.299.3399 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Attorneys for the Apostolates CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE I, Douglas S. Draper, counsel for the Apostolates, do hereby certify that I caused the Memorandum in Opposition to the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors’ Motion for Order Reopening Abuse Claims Bar Date for Additional 60-Day Period to be served on July 16, 2021, via the Court’s ECF Notification System as follows: Christine W. Adams firstname.lastname@example.org A. Brooke Watford Altazan email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org David Winston Ardoin email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Laura F. Ashley email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com Alicia M. Bendana firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org C. Davin Boldissar email@example.com, Ashley.Lohr@lockelord.com Richard A. Bordelon firstname.lastname@example.org Brandon A. Brown email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org Joseph M. Bruno email@example.com, Don@brunobrunolaw.com Amelia L Bueche firstname.lastname@example.org Elwood F. Cahill email@example.com Andrew William Caine firstname.lastname@example.org Jamie Dodds Cangelosi email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org
17 Linda F Cantor email@example.com Desiree M. Charbonnet firstname.lastname@example.org William G. Cherbonnier email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org Everett J. Cygal email@example.com John H. Denenea firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Eric J Derbes firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org Ross J. Donnes email@example.com Douglas S. Draper firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com John Douglas Elrod firstname.lastname@example.org Joseph Mark Fisher email@example.com Elizabeth J. Futrell firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org Amanda Burnette George Amanda.B.George@usdoj.gov William P. Gibbens email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Soren Erik Gisleson email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Brodie Glenn email@example.com Alan H. Goodman firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Ashley J. Heilprin firstname.lastname@example.org Evan Park Howell email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Stephen Michael Huber email@example.com Wayne J. Jablonowski firstname.lastname@example.org Annette W Jarvis email@example.com Lillian Jordan firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org Benjamin Kadden email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Allison Kingsmill email@example.com Dylan K. Knoll firstname.lastname@example.org Omer F. Kuebel email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org;Yamille.Harrison@lockelord.com Heather A. LaSalle email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Frank E. Lamothe email@example.com Julien Guy Lamothe firstname.lastname@example.org Mark C. Landry email@example.com Darryl T. Landwehr firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Mary S. Langston Mary.Langston@usdoj.gov Joseph J Lowenthal firstname.lastname@example.org Ryan Luminais email@example.com Thomas J. Madigan firstname.lastname@example.org Robert A. Mathis email@example.com Gerald Edward Meunier firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Allen C. Miller firstname.lastname@example.org Mark Mintz email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com
18 Colleen A Murphy firstname.lastname@example.org Samantha Oppenheim email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Dwight C Paulsen email@example.com Felecia Y Peavy firstname.lastname@example.org Nancy Peterman email@example.com William Shandler Robbins firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com Keith A. Rodriguez Krodriguez@keithrodriguez.com Samuel M. Rosamond firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Richard A Rozanski firstname.lastname@example.org David Rubin David.Rubin@butlersnow.com Logan Elizabeth Schonekas email@example.com Glenn K. Schreiber firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org;Vanessa.email@example.com Kristi Schubert firstname.lastname@example.org Stephen P. Scullin email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Peter James Segrist email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Ryan M. Seidemann email@example.com Patrick M. Shelby firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Nicholas Smeltz firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com David M Spector firstname.lastname@example.org Roger Stetter email@example.com Paul Douglas Stewart firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com Jefferson R. Tillery firstname.lastname@example.org Richard Trahant email@example.com Office of the U.S. Trustee USTPRegion05.NR.ECF@usdoj.gov R. Patrick Vance firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org Richard P Voorhies Richard@voorhieslaw.com, email@example.com;firstname.lastname@example.org David F. Waguespack email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org;email@example.com David E. Walle firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com John W. Waters firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Regina S. Wedig firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com Edward Dirk Wegmann firstname.lastname@example.org Brittany Rose Wolf-Freedman email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Wayne George Zeringue email@example.com Michael S. Zerlin firstname.lastname@example.org
19I also caused same to be served on July 16, 2021, by Docusource via U.S. First Class Mail, postage prepaid upon the parties listed on the attached mailing matrix. In addition to the above service, on July 15, 2021, I caused an unfiled copy of same to be served upon the following: SectionAOrders@laeb.uscourts.gov <email@example.com> Mintz, Mark (firstname.lastname@example.org) email@example.com Boldissar, Davin <DBoldissar@lockelord.com> Andrew Caine <firstname.lastname@example.org> Amanda.B.George@usdoj.gov email@example.com Brandon Brown <firstname.lastname@example.org> Linda Cantor <email@example.com> Chrystal_Raymond@laeb.uscourts.gov 'James Stang' firstname.lastname@example.org /s/Douglas S. Draper