University of Wisconsin–Madison

Jonathan Lipson Speaks to Journal Sentinel About Archbishop Cousins Center Ownership Dispute

Recently, Jonathan Lipson spoke to the Journal Sentinel about the current dispute over ownership of the Archbishop Cousins Center, a 415,000-square-foot complex property that houses the offices and operations of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

For years, the archdiocese has said it is selling the property, valued as high as $10 million, and that it has mortgaged it to fund a $17 million sex-abuse settlement in California. Now, four months after filing for bankruptcy, the archdiocese maintains that it has never owned the Cousins Center and proceeds from its sale cannot be used to pay any settlement with Wisconsin victims as part of the bankruptcy.

At issue in the Cousins Center ownership is likely to be how that entity was structured, who sits on its board of directors and how it was presented publicly, say bankruptcy experts.

"There are a couple of things the courts look at--there's an internal test and external test," said Lipson, who teaches bankruptcy law at UW Law School and has written on the Catholic Church bankruptcies.

"Were they treating these entities internally as if they were separate--separate books, bank accounts, boards...And what did the world think? How did they hold them out: as separate entities or not?" he said. "These can be very difficult things to litigate because they're so fact intensive, and there's usually no smoking gun."

To read the original Journal Sentinel article, click here.

To read a related article, "The Economist and Other Media Talk to Jonathan Lipson About Catholic Church Bankruptcies," click here.  

Submitted by UW Law News on May 19, 2011

This article appears in the categories: In the Media

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