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Claim deadline extended in Buffalo Diocese bankruptcy

A bankruptcy court judge has extended the deadline for claims of alleged sexual abuse of adults against the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo.

Lawyers for the Diocese filed a motion seeking the new deadline and U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Carl L. Bucki set the new deadline of 75 days after the publication of a notice announcing the news.

On Feb. 14, 2019, state lawmakers enacted legislation that reopened the statute of limitations to allow victims of child abuse a period of one year from Aug. 14, 2019, to assert claims that were otherwise barred by a statute of limitations.

That deadline was extended by an additional year to Aug, 14, 2021. By the end of February 2020, the Diocese of Buffalo had been named as a defendant in more than 200 complaints alleging the sexual abuse of a minor.

Anticipating even more claims, the Diocese filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy on Feb. 28, 2020.

On Sept. 11, 2020, Bucki set a deadline of Aug. 14, 2021, for the filing of claims.

Bucki approved a deadline notice to creditors that announced that Aug. 14, 2021, would serve “as the deadline for all persons and entities, including governmental units and persons asserting sexual abuse claims, to file pre-petition claims in this Chapter 11 Case.”

The notice defined “sexual abuse claim” to include any claim

arising from “contacts, or interactions of a sexual nature between a child and an adult, or a nonconsenting adult and another adult.”

More than 900 claims alleging damages for sexual abuse were filed on or before the deadline of Aug. 14, 2021.

But on May 24 Gov. Nancy Hochul signed the Adult Survivors Act to reopen the statute of limitations to allow adult victims of sexual abuse until Nov. 14, to assert claims that had been barred under state law.

In response, the Diocese filed the motion to change the deadline for claims  against the District because they will impact the processing of the bankruptcy. The Diocese proposed a deadline of Feb. 15.

“The debtor is now engaged in settlement negotiations with its creditors, insurers, and other parties in interest. In order to facilitate efforts to achieve a global resolution, negotiators need to identify the potential claims of adult victims,” Bucki wrote.

So he agreed to set a new deadline for the filing of claims arising under the Adult Survivors Act, “but on condition that the filing of any such claim be without prejudice to rights of other creditors to assert applicability of the original bar date.”

“Nothing in this order will preclude an objection to any claim on the basis that it is untimely under any prior order,” Bucki wrote in his decision.

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