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A judge in Los Angeles has ruled that four people that claim to have been abused by a Catholic Priest and were not properly protected by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese can seek punitive damages. The four were sexually abused by a member of the clergy.

The ruling by Judge Haley Fromholz could open the archdiocese to tens of millions of dollars in payouts if punitive damages are permitted in more than 500 other pending clergy abuse lawsuits. The judge also ordered the archdiocese to submit to extensive interrogation and disclosure about its finances.

The case is set to start on June 11th. Punitive damages are awarded to help right a wrong and can be larger than a pain and suffering award.

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