Weil, Quaranta, McGovern attorneys win $12.5M award for abuse victim

, Daily Business Review

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Ronald Weil and Mary Olszewska
Ronald Weil and Mary Olszewska

The victim's attorneys told the jury that the Florida Baptist Convention should have known through reasonable diligence that Myers was not suitable to mentor, counsel or minister young children. Weil said the organization did only a cursory background check on Myers.

"He submitted a resume which had a listing of the most two recent churches he worked at in the last two or three years and nobody called," Weil said. "One phone call would have stopped this guy in his tracks."

The attorneys told the jury during the damages phase that C.E. is deeply scarred from the abuse. He remains in psychotherapy to deal with suicide ideation and night terrors. Two doctors testified C.E. suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Weil said the victim has lost his faith because of the abuse.

Weil was lead attorney and presented most of the evidence at trial. Olszewska, Weil's daughter-in-law, did much of the trial preparation work with witnesses, including the victim who testified.

"They belittled him," Olszewska said. "They put up Facebook. They talked about how he went on vacation to Mexico."

Defense case: Fernandez did not return a phone call or email for comment.

Weil said the Florida Baptist Convention argued its churches are a loose confederation and it had no control over them. Weil said the case was the first to reject that contention.

The defense in the damages phrase maintained C.E. was basically unharmed from the abuse, Olszewska said. It pointed to his Facebook profile that showed him smiling.

Verdict: The jury awarded $2.5 million in damages against the church organization for harm to the plaintiff in the past and another $10 million for future pain and suffering. There were no punitive damages.

Comments: "The Florida Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention have been late to acknowledging their responsibility in addressing problem ministers," Weil said.

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