By PETER SMITH | August 13, 2020
Twenty-eight people initiated legal actions against the Diocese of Pittsburgh on Thursday, cresting a wave of recent claims filed across the state against Roman Catholic dioceses in advance of Friday’s two-year anniversary of a landmark grand jury report into sexual abuse by priests.
Pittsburgh attorney Alan Perer said he was filing Thursday on behalf of numerous plaintiffs to get their claims in court before the two-year mark, which, under a legal theory being tested before the commonwealth’s top court, would be the deadline under the statute of limitations.
Fourteen plaintiffs filed full complaints in lawsuits in Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas by the end of Thursday, while 14 others filed praecipes for writs of summons — short notices of intent to sue, which gets a foot in the courthouse door before the deadline. Mr. Perer represents most of those plaintiffs, but other attorneys filed on behalf of three of the plaintiffs.
Numerous other plaintiffs also have filed court claims in recent weeks against the Pittsburgh Diocese and other Catholic dioceses in the state.
Six dioceses were subjects of an Aug. 14, 2018, report by a statewide grand jury that investigated seven decades of sexual abuse that, the report said, was often abetted by cover-ups by bishops and other church officials.
Harrisburg attorney Nathaniel Foote — whose firm Andreozzi & Foote filed lawsuits and praecipes earlier this year naming the Pittsburgh Diocese — said his firm has filed about 60 cases statewide against various dioceses. He estimated there are more than 100 total pending cases against the dioceses named by the grand jury filed by various attorneys.