Diocese of Washington Appears to be in Settlement Negotiation with PNC Bank
Legal Action in Soper Trust Trial Now Moves in Complete Secrecy with Meeting in Judge's Chambers
By Sarah Frances Ives
Special to Virtueonline
January 22, 2013
A hostile legal fight to obtain the Soper Trust money initiated by the Diocese of Washington against financial giant PNC Bank in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland has begun to move in complete secrecy.
The original court date of December 18, 2012, was cancelled six days before the long-scheduled trial. Last week a hearing was scheduled for January 22, 2013, at 10:30am but at the request of one of the lawyers, Judge Peter J. Messitte moved the hearing into his chambers so there could be no public witnesses. The official title of this meeting was "Status/Settlement Conference." It would appear that a settlement agreement is now being created.
Lawyers for the Diocese of Washington had said that Maryland State Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler supported their attempt to gain complete control of the Ruth Gregory Soper Trust by terminating the trust. The lawyers for PNC Bank who are currently in charge of the trust had vigorously fought back and said that to give control of the Soper Trust to the diocese refuted Mrs. Soper's expressed wishes in her will.
Both sides in the legal action had said that laws concerning the allocation of trusts could be impacted by the outcome of this trial. If a settlement is now in progress, it appears that the Diocese of Washington might have withdrawn its request that the Soper Trust be terminated. Future legal papers should reveal more of what has happened in this adversarial dispute.
Further reports as more legal information is available will be posted on Virtueonline. www.virtueonline.org
Sarah Frances Ives is VOL's Washington correspondent
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