Friday, October 30, 2015

Where Now?

I assume the vestry's attorneys (I'm going to drop the "elected" henceforth) are on top of legal options and developments, and legal strategies are confidential. Fr Kelley and Dr Trimpi, his senior warden, make information available to friends of the parish as appropriate. So I can only speculate for now on where things might be headed, although I would note that my wife and I called things right last month, so sorry, folks, no refund!

Here are some open questions. The first is insurance. The Church Mutual Insurance Company had an attorney observing the September trial. Mrs Bush and others had sued Church Mutual in 2013, hoping to be reimbursed for legal fees they paid (or pledged) to Lancaster and Anastasia, certainly amounting to hundreds of thousands, which Church Mutual has refused to pay on the basis that Bush et al are neither the policyholders nor the insured. That case, based on both the appeals court decision and the outcome of the September trial, is now hopeless.

I simply don't know if the Church Mutual attorney was observing the trial out of interest in that case, or whether it saw potential claims arising from the September trial of the Rector, Wardens, and Vestry cases, or both. Among the questions my wife and I have are whether the squatters kept up premium payments on the parish's Church Mutual policy. They are fully capable, of course, of screwing this up.

But assuming a policy is still in force for the St Mary's parish, the next question would be what it covers. Does it cover physical damage to the building? Theft? Who knows? An insurance expert would have to take a close look at the policy. But depending on what it covers, the vestry could file a claim based on losses, once it gained entry to the building. Church Mutual would then pay -- but Church Mutual would subrogate, which is to say they'd turn around and dun Mrs Bush, Mr Omeirs, "Bishops" Marsh, Strawn, and Owen Williams, and other parties for that money. If that's what the policy covered, and if it's still in force.

Another question is Citibank. As far as we know, Citibank allowed Anthony Morello and the squatters to open a new account under "St Mary of Angels" or something like that, and deposit and write checks on the parish's behalf, although the squatters had been instructed by Judge Jones in June 2012 to return control of the accounts to the vestry, and the parish was subject to continued litigation. Citibank may have major liability here, and they are a deep pocket.

But there will need to be a forensic audit. We simply don't know who got paid by the squatters, from three years' income to the parish amounting to nearly $750,000. We have more and more indication that the ACA seized the parish to get money. But the trial court has presumably established that after the August 2012 election, the parish was not part of the ACA (though it was in the Patrimony, not the ACA, after January 2011). Any money paid the ACA by the squatters would need to be recovered, possibly through insurance (depending, as above, on the policy), but otherwise through litigation.

I've already called this situation a slow-motion train wreck for the ACA, the squatters, Marsh, Strawn, and Owen Williams, and the bank. So far, it looks like I've been calling it right. Mrs Bush, at least 85 years old, appears to be a very sad case. I think her family needs to get involved.