Catholic Diocese of Spokane sues its attorneys

SPOKANE — The Catholic Diocese of Spokane has sued its own lawyers for mishandling a bankruptcy case that arose from lawsuits over clergy sex abuse.

The Spokesman-Review reported the malpractice lawsuit was filed this week and seeks more than $12 million from the Spokane law firm Paine Hamblen Coffin Brooke and Miller.

The diocese said in court documents that its bankruptcy lawyers failed to explore other means of ending the abuse scandal. It also blames the lawyers for writing a bankruptcy plan that failed to adequately fund the risk of new claims.

The diocese declared bankruptcy in 2004 and eventually settled with 180 people who claimed they were sexually abused by Catholic clergy. The settlement cost the diocese and insurers $50 million.

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