Eighteen pending cases against Vermont's Roman Catholic Diocese will be tried together.
Superior Court Judge Helen Toor says it would take too long to try all the cases individually, so Tuesday she ruled that they be lumped into one trial.
Most of the 18 cases are claims from former altar boys at Christ the King church who say that Father Edward Paquette molested them.
Three cases against Father Alfred Willis will also be tried together.
Tom McCormick, the lawyer for the diocese, says he is not sure if a combined trial will be better for his clients, but he is hoping to avoid it through mediation which is scheduled to happen before April 1.
"We intend to make every effort to settle the cases," McCormick said. "If they don't settle then we'll face a joint trial. What exactly that will mean remains to be seen. There's never been anything like that in the state as far as I can see. There have been very few instances of this nationally."
Last week, the diocese reached a settlement with one former altar boy. He was awarded nearly $9 million by a jury in 2008, but the award was under appeal. Part of the settlement allows the diocese to sell its office building and other properties it owns to pay other victims.
Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:53 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:53:47 GMT
Teamwork between a Montgomery farmer and a corporal with the Franklin Country sheriff's department may have saved a life when they pulled off a daring rescue. A woman became trapped in her truck tryingMore >>
It was a lifesaving rescue in the nick of time. A Franklin County sheriff's deputy put his life on the line to save a woman trapped in a truck with floodwaters raging around her. More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 7:00 PM EDT2014-04-16 23:00:55 GMT
After this week's whirlwind weather events and major flooding Tuesday, Governor Shumlin (D-Vermont), VTrans and state transportation officials held a news conference Wednesday to discuss the aftermath. ShumlinMore >>
After this week's whirlwind weather events and major flooding Tuesday, Governor Shumlin, VTrans and state transportation officials held a news conference Wednesday to discuss the aftermath.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 12:02 PM EDT2014-04-16 16:02:05 GMT
The floods forced Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency in New York. The governor made the declaration Tuesday night. It covers six counties in northeastern of New York, including two inMore >>
The floods forced Gov. Andrew Cuomo to declare a state of emergency in New York.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:21 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:21:46 GMT
A body found near the North Hartland Dam appears to be that of a missing man from New Hampshire. Michael Hayward, 42, of Sunapee, disappeared two months ago. His car was found near the Quechee Gorge. PoliceMore >>
A body found near the North Hartland Dam appears to be that of a missing man from New Hampshire.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 7:14 PM EDT2014-04-16 23:14:24 GMT
Authorities say six people managed to escape a house fire in Plattsburgh Tuesday morning. First responders say when they arrived at 42 Smith Street, the house was completely engulfed in flames. CityMore >>
Authorities say six people managed to escape a house fire in Plattsburgh Tuesday morning. Police say the blaze was sparked by a child playing with a lighter.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 6:07 PM EDT2014-04-16 22:07:50 GMT
Police in Haverhill, N.H., say they got numerous calls about a young child walking down a road alone. They found the child about a mile from her home. She was brought back to the residence, but the NewMore >>
Police in Haverhill, N.H., say they found a young child alone about a mile from her home.More >>
Wednesday, April 16 2014 12:00 PM EDT2014-04-16 16:00:26 GMT
U.S. Marshals have caught a Vermont woman who escaped from furlough. Authorities say Kylee Dubuque, 29, of Essex, had been on the run since late March. Essex police nearly caught her last week, but sheMore >>
U.S. Marshals have caught a Vermont woman who escaped from furlough.More >>