Broderick: Changes To YDC Settlement Law Would Mean ‘Considerable’ Savings

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John T. Broderick Jr.


CONCORD – The Settlement Fund for survivors of physical and sexual abuse they suffered as children incarcerated by the state has agreed to pay 134 victims $66.4 million, or about 45 percent less than the $121.8 million they originally sought when filing their claims.

There are still 237 pending claims with far more expected before the deadline to file with the YDC Claims Administration and Settlement Fund. A total of 418 claims have been filed since the fund began operating Jan. 1, 2023, according to John Broderick, the claims administrator, in his quarterly report released Friday.

“I fully expect that number will rise significantly between now and June 30, 2025, as a result of the legislative amendments to the Settlement Fund statute (SB 591) that seem on a path to passage (increasing the capped amounts on awards and adding new categories of compensable abuse)…,” Broderick wrote in his summary letter.

“And a representation by Nixon Peabody (law firm) that it will recommend to the vast majority of its clients who have pending cases in the Superior Court that they should file in our administrative claims process after the statutory amendments are approved,” Broderick wrote.

SB 591 passed the Senate and is expected to be voted on in the House on Thursday.

Broderick said he expects hundreds of claims will migrate from the Superior Court docket to the state’s settlement process over the next 13 to 14 months. Nixon Peabody and attorney Rus Rilee represent about 1,300 alleged victims. Attorneys’ fees will be capped at 33.33 percent.

The proposed amendments and attorneys’ recommendation to their clients to use the state’s administrative claims process instead of trial are significant, Broderick said in the report.

“This development will result in a substantially reduced number of jury trials in the Superior Court and considerable savings to the state and to claimants/claimants’ counsel,” Broderick said.

There will be some additional costs to pay for more hearing days and additional staff for the Settlement Fund.

“The legislative amendment wisely anticipates giving me authority, with the approval of the Joint Fiscal Committee, to select an Assistant Administrator to head a second hearings team,” Broderick said.

Of the 134 resolved cases, 109 were settled by agreement, and 25 following a resolution proceeding with $66,365,500 the total settlement amount so far.

Broderick said the number of new claims in the first quarter of 2024 was almost double the previous quarter.

Victims, most of whom are represented by outside attorneys, made their claims based on the guidelines in the current law that spells out what the state would pay for each type of abuse.

Of the 134 victims who have settled, 103 were for both sexual and physical abuse; 20 were for sexual abuse only, and 11 were for physical abuse only, the report said.

The total amount for filed claims through the first quarter of 2024 was $420,606,000.

 The cost of the claims administration since it started was $1,312,120. Outside expenses to the Attorney General’s Office through the first quarter of 2024 were expected to be almost $1.6 million, according to the report.

The state Legislature established the YDC Claims Administration and Settlement Fund in 2022 for victims of sexual and physical abuse at New Hampshire’s youth detention center facilities to provide an administrative process as an alternative to litigation.

Early on, some attorneys representing victims argued against settling with the state’s fund saying it wasn’t victim friendly and victims would get more money by going to court.

If the proposed amendment to the law passes as expected, some of the caps will be raised, new categories of compensable abuse and more money appropriated, making it more palatable to victims’ attorneys, Senate President Jeb Bradley testified in February before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Bradley said the negotiations between the Attorney General’s Office and the victims’ attorneys were sometimes contentious, but he believes the improved settlement process will benefit all involved.

The settlement process keeps the victims out of court, protects the court system from not having runaway litigation and protects the state from a process that is very uncertain in terms of the financial implications, Bradley told the committee.

The state originally earmarked $100 million for the Settlement Fund which is now two-thirds allocated with the agreement to pay the 134 survivors.

The only case to go to trial so far is David Meehan’s lawsuit against the state Department of Health and Human Services in Rockingham Superior Court.

The trial resumed Monday. Meehan claims he was raped and beaten hundreds of times and placed in solitary confinement for extended periods starting when he was 14 while incarcerated at the Sununu Youth Services Center, then called the Youth Development Center (YDC) in Manchester.

 Testimony from one expert indicated Meehan would need $1.5 million for lifetime care of the PTSD he developed as a result of his treatment at YDC.

Claims for sexual and other abuse or sexual abuse only will still be capped at $1.5 million while a new category “egregious sexual abuse” will be capped at $2.5 million in the proposed amendment.

Egregious sexual abuse is defined as being “wanton or cruel to such an extent that it is sufficiently in excess of the severity of abuse experienced by most claimants…”

For all claims involving other abuse only, the cap would be raised from $150,000 to $250,000.

Claims of isolated confinement would be paid at up to $300 per day with a cap of $100,000.

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