A 25-year-old has settled with Penn State for an undisclosed amount for the sexual abuse he experienced at the age of 13 by convicted serial child molester Jerry Sandusky in a shower, according to the plaintiff's lawyer, Tom Kline of Kline & Specter.
Meanwhile, seven other accusers have agreed to settlement of their claims with Penn State over being abused by Sandusky, according to Joel Feller, of Ross Feller Casey, the firm representing those victims.
Kline, who represented a man known as Victim 5, said there was a "direct causal link in the knowledge of [the late head football coach Joe] Paterno, [former athletic director Tim] Curley, [former vice president of business and finance Gary] Schultz, and president of [Penn State] University [Graham] Spanier and their failure to report" to law enforcement a prior incident that had been reported to them by former assistant football coach Mike McQueary, who also saw Sandusky in a shower with another young victim.
There are 31 claims pending against Penn State for Sandusky's alleged or confirmed abuse, with more than 15 lawyers representing plaintiffs.
Earlier this summer, the Penn State board of trustees approved a number around $60 million to settle a majority of the claims made by people claiming Sandusky sexually abused them.
Penn State's lead negotiator has been Michael K. Rozen of Feinberg Rozen in Washington, D.C., and New York. The firm has worked on such high-profile matters as the 9/11 victim fund and settlements related to the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
Rozen declined comment, but said he would not disagree with the proposition that settlement agreements have gone out and that only one has been returned with signatures.
Penn State is settling the claims without the participation of their insurers, Kline said. Settling the cases both liquidates Penn State's damages and diminishes the exposure of the university, Kline said, thus leaving Penn State in the position to seek contribution from its insurers.
Further, Penn State in the Victim 5 case has agreed and other victims in the other settlements may agree to not sue any other defendants for Sandusky's abuse and to allow Penn State to step into their shoes to sue Sandusky's former and now-closed charity, The Second Mile, and its insurer, Kline said.
Kline said his understanding is that The Second Mile had coverage as much as $3 million per year for each of the years in which the claimants were abused.
Letting Penn State step into the shoes of his client was a "fair part of the bargain and gives Penn State an opportunity to retrieve a good portion of the payment through two sources: from their insurance carriers and from Second Mile's insurance carrier," Kline said. "I thought that was fair and equitable and something that came at no cost to my client."
Penn State's intention was to achieve as much of a global settlement as possible, Kline said.
While sexual abuse is objectively horrible, sex-abuse victims are subjectively affected and Penn State wanted some objective criteria on how to establish value in the cases, Kline said, which included submission of a psychiatric evaluation of his client.
There was no coordination among the plaintiffs' counsel, Kline said.
Ross Feller Casey represents three victims who testified at Sandusky's trial, who are known as Victim 3, Victim 7 and Victim 10. The firm also represents Victim 2, whose story was corroborated through the testimony of McQueary, along with three claimants who were not part of indictments against Sandusky, including Sandusky's adopted son, Matt Sandusky.
Ross Feller Casey's cases were strong cases from the start, Feller said, but the firm's clients are pleased that, in order to further the process of their healing, they will not have to testify in a civil trial.
"These particular cases stand alone and are unique in its facts and unique in how these young men were individually destroyed," Feller said. "It's extremely difficult to compare one person's experience with another person's experience. They really stand alone in" facts, liability and damages.
Sandusky, formerly the longtime defensive coordinator of Penn State's football team, was convicted on 45 of 48 counts of child sex abuse in June 2012.
Penn State, meanwhile, has been in an ongoing legal battle over coverage with its primary liability insurance carrier during the relevant time period, Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association Insurance Co. While Penn State tried to move that insurance litigation to Centre County more than once, it appears it will stay in Philadelphia.