citybiz Interview: JJS Partner Andrew Janet


David Nevins: Hi, everybody. Good afternoon, and welcome to our program today. This is David Nevins for citybiz and thank you so much for joining us. Our guest today is Andrew Janet of the prominent law firm, Janet, Janet & Suggs, who’s going to talk to us for a bit about his important work. Andrew, thank you so much for joining us today.

Andrew Janet: Thank you for having me, David.

DN: It’s indeed our pleasure. So, Andrew, before we get into the nitty gritty, why don’t you just share with our viewers a little bit about your firm and generally what you do and where you are and so forth?

AJ: Sure. Our firm is Janet, Janet & Suggs, as you mentioned.

We have offices in different parts of the country, but our main and biggest office is here in Baltimore, well, specifically in Pikesville, Maryland. The firm was founded by my dad, so I kinda grew up being aware of it, but I’ve officially been working at Janet, Janet & Suggs for six years. We do plaintiff’s personal injury work, with a focus on sexual abuse cases—child sexual abuse cases—which is what the majority of the cases that I work on are. And we also do a good amount of medical malpractice cases, as well.

DN: So, I know a lot of our viewers more than likely have been reading about this, and I know in your career thus far you’ve already become known as quite a powerful advocate for sex abuse victims, and that’s something, sadly, that’s been in the news quite a bit. Just tell us a little bit about your work in that regard.

AJ: Sure. So, I represent survivors of child sexual abuse in cases against facilities that enable or have enabled that to happen—a lot of church defendants, schools, childcare residential facilities. I’ve been doing that for the majority of the time that I’ve been working at Janet, Janet & Suggs. It’s been really a rewarding fight for a very deserving group of people, and a good time for it as well. We’re finally at a point in the country’s history that states are waking up to the reality that child sexual abuse civil statutes of limitations have been insufficient to get justice for all the horrible things that have been happening to people. I mean, the insidious nature of child sexual abuse means that the survivors are so intimidated by it that they’re encouraged to keep silent for years and years, and statutes of limitations in the past have not been sufficient to allow them to seek justice for what happened to them.

Finally, states are changing those laws. When I first got involved with this, it was a time when New York had passed their own Child Victims Act. And I actually went to law school at NYU. I started my legal career in New York, and it was the first state that I was barred in. So, even from Baltimore, I was able to file a good number of cases in New York against New York-based entities for this kind of child sexual abuse.

That window was open starting in 2019, and then a few years later Maryland passed their own Child Victims Act, which has allowed us to file suits in Maryland, as well. So, it’s happening in in many states and we’re glad that many states are realizing that their statutes of limitations have not been sufficient in in the past.

DN: So, it’s a very interesting story you’re telling. And so, toward that end—you can correct me if I’m mistaken—but a number of us have watched as I believe roughly 700 sexual abuse victims thus far have registered in suits against the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which has since declared bankruptcy, I imagine, as a way of either avoiding or perhaps more accurately limiting their liability in this regard. And I know that a number of those 700 are represented by your firm. Walk us through that, if you would, and where these cases currently stand.

AJ: Sure. So, when the Archdiocese of Baltimore filed for bankruptcy, one of the effects of that was to create a claims bar date, which meant that every survivor had to file a proof of claim by a certain date. That date has now passed. The date was May 31st, and so now they have a sense of how many survivors are going to come forward and file claims in the bankruptcy and some degree of an understanding as to the facts of those cases and those claims.

So now, from this point forward, the bankruptcy proceeding is going to focus more on determining what assets and how much can be put into the bankruptcy estate to be distributed to the abuse survivors and other creditors. They’re gonna take a look at what the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s assets are, what could be sold, how much those assets could be sold for, and then also what the insurance policies are. There tend to be many insurance companies involved, and it can be quite complicated when you’re talking about decades of claims with insurance policies covering different periods of time. So, yes, we have filed a number of claims in the bankruptcy, but with respect to the actual survivor’s interest in the bankruptcy, all survivors are represented by a survivor’s committee, which is a limited number of people—I think seven survivors on it.

They have their own bankruptcy specialists—lawyers who are representing their interests in all those proceedings. And then, once you have a better picture of what the estate looks like, what typically happens in these diocese bankruptcies is then there’s negotiations between the survivors’ committees counsel as well as the diocese counsel. And then eventually they come up with a plan, which is put to a vote of the creditors which, probably the most important group of creditors being the survivors. So that’s what I expect to happen in the Archdiocese of Baltimore bankruptcy as well.

DN: And then, Andrew, just briefly, because we have a number of viewers who live in the Washington area as well, you have cases against the Archdiocese of Washington where that’s playing out a little bit differently. Right?

AJ: Yes. That’s correct. We filed a punitive class action lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Washington, which has not filed for bankruptcy, and we don’t have any indication that they’re planning to do so. A punitive class action, that means that we are seeking to represent the entire class of people who have been abused as children by agents of the Archdiocese of Washington.

The Archdiocese of Washington does cover not just DC, but also five Maryland counties, including some big ones: Montgomery, Prince George’s County, as well as also Calvert, Charles, and Saint Mary’s. So, that is playing out differently. The Archdiocese of Washington filed a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that the Maryland Child Victims Act is unconstitutional. We then filed an opposition to that motion, and then there were oral arguments. We argued the motion on March 6th of this year, 2024, in the Prince George’s County circuit court—it was filed in Prince George’s County—and our side won. So that was the first victory for the Maryland Child Victims Act, which I was very happy about. The archdiocese is appealing the ruling, and we agreed with the archdiocese to skip the intermediate level of appeals and try to take it straight to the Maryland Supreme Court, which, the Supreme Court granted our petition to do so. And now the case is being consolidated for appellate argument with three other cases involving similar issues. The argument has been scheduled for September 10th. And then so, you know, we’ll see how that goes. We certainly think that our arguments are strong and should carry the day. Assuming the Child Victims Act remains, then we’ll go ahead and move forward. There’ll be discovery into the archdiocese, we’ll be trying to get notice out to everyone who’s ever been abused by one of the Archdiocese of Washington’s agents.

The Archdiocese of Washington has released a list of 34 priests who they describe as being credibly accused of abusing children. We do think there are others out there and one of the named class representatives in the case has identified a couple of abusers that he alleges abused him which are not on that list. So, anyone who may well have claims against the Archdiocese of Washington should absolutely reach out to us. The more we know about the extent of the abuse, the better off we’ll all be in in terms of, you know, exposing the truth and positioning ourselves in the case.

DN: It’s all fascinating. And so we should learn later this fall whether the Maryland Child Victims Act withstood the constitutionality, as determined by the Maryland Supreme Court. Right?

AJ: That’s certainly my hope. I mean, the arguments are scheduled for September 10th. We may have a sense of how the Supreme Court is going to rule based on those arguments. They may not rule from the bench. They may reserve and file and submit their opinion later on. Hopefully, it will be this fall, but I’m not quite 100% sure on the timing of what they’ll do.

DN: So, Andrew, just switching gears a little bit, and I know you’ve been involved in these matters for most of your career, not your entire legal career. And clearly not all abusers are associated with the archdiocese, either Baltimore, Washington, or anywhere else, and you’ve been involved in, you were involved I guess I should say, in a record-setting case, if I’m not mistaken, with, almost a—again, correct me if I’m wrong—almost a billion-dollar judgment against the University of Southern California. Just share with us a little bit about that case and how it came to be.

AJ: Sure. We represented about 136 plaintiffs who were part of one settlement, which all total included about 700 settling plaintiffs against the University of Southern California, USC, for the sexual abuse, assault, harassment, rape committed by their OBGYN, Dr. George Tyndall.

He was the only full-time gynecologist at USC with our students from the late 80s until, I think, around 2016, and he was exploiting his patients for pretty much that entire time. And discovery in the case revealed that despite receiving complaints about him, USC didn’t do anything to stop it. A lot of plaintiff’s firms were doing great work on those cases. There were multiple different groups of settlements, but in all total it was over a billion dollars, but the settlement that we were part of was an $842.4 million settlement against USC, which we worked on with a number of other plaintiffs’ firms, but it was a great result. It was an average of $1.2 million per person, which was, as far as I know, the largest known settlement in a sexual abuse case in US history. I also under understand that it’s the largest known personal injury settlement against a university. So, obviously, it included many, many people as well. But, yeah, that was a great result.

DN: So, Andrew, we only have a few seconds left. And, on the one hand, I wanna give you an opportunity to just let our viewers know how they can reach out to you, either to learn more about you or learn more about your firm or bring to you a possible case of sexual abuse.

So, on the on the one hand, I hope they reach out to you because I know of the good work your firm does. On the other hand, listen, I hope you don’t get any calls because that means there aren’t abusers out there… any abused, rather. And so, tell us how someone reaches Andrew Janet and your firm.

AJ: Sure. Our firm’s website is, so you can check us out there. There’s lots of contact information on the site. JJS being the abbreviation for Janet, Janet & Suggs, and then justice, just the word justice. You can also call our firm at 410-653-3200.

We’re happy to take a look at any case that’s consistent with the work that we do—sexual abuse, medical malpractice, other types of serious catastrophic personal injuries. We also do cases all over the country. You know, certainly, we have a strong presence in Maryland, but we are a national law firm. I think that we’ve handled cases in around 40 of the 50 states, and we’ve been around for over 40 years now. So, there’s been a lot of time to get that number up, but we’re barred in a number of different states.

We have people barred in, I think, ten states total, but we can also get admitted, what’s called pro hac vice, which is just the ability to work on a particular case in a particular state just for that limited project. So, if there’s if there’s someone who, has been seriously injured by negligence, particularly if it involves sexual abuse or medical malpractice, they should absolutely feel free to reach out to us.

DN: And I’m sure they will. Andrew, keep up the very important and groundbreaking work that you and your colleagues at Janet, Janet & Suggs have been involved in it. One can only hope that maybe the day of reckoning has arrived and there’ll be some measure of justice. There’ll never be full justice, but some measure of justice for those who have been so abused. And I know your firm has done an outstanding job representing them. But, Andrew, thank you so much for your time today.

AJ: Thank you, David. And, yes, we work as hard as we can for the people that we think that we can help. We can never make any guarantees, obviously, but we can promise that we’ll put in the best effort that we can.

DN: I have no doubt. This is David Nevins for citybiz. Thank you so much for joining us today.

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