When the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced they were filing for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy to equitably compensate thousands of survivors of sexual abuse, the move appeared to be the first step around a very long track of remedying a lifetime of hurt. That track, however, will be filled with other hurdles BSA must overcome to reach its goal in justly recompensing survivors.
While BSA is currently facing over 200 sex abuse claims against its national organization, it is also navigating over 1,000 additional claims against its local councils and individual charter organizations. To help combat the influx of lawsuits, when BSA filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, it also requested a preliminary injunction that would temporarily halt all prosecutions against its local councils, chartered organizations, and affiliates.
One anonymous plaintiff, LG 37 Doe, has an individual lawsuit currently pending in the Western District of New York. The lawsuit alleges that LG 37 Doe was sexually abused from 1983 to 1987 while a member of Boy Scouts of America Troop 565. The lawsuit names the national BSA, LG 37 Doe’s abuser, and the local council as defendants. If BSA’s request for the preliminary injunction is granted, LG 37 Doe’s lawsuit would be one of many that would be affected.
On March 11, 2020, LG 37 Doe’s attorney filed an objection to BSA’s request. The objection states, in part, “[t]he direct effect of BSA’s requested preliminary injunction would be to benefit non-bankrupt co-defendants, The Child Molester and [The Local] Council, with the protection of a bankruptcy stay, while LG 37 Doe, the victim of child sexual assault is estopped from pursuing litigation against any responsible party.” The objection also argues that the local council is a separate and distinct organization from the national BSA, and therefore, there is no legal or factual basis to find that a judgment in LG 37 Doe’s individual action would affect BSA.
On March 19, 2020, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein held a teleconference with BSA’s attorneys to address scheduling matters and hearing dates in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. While BSA’s attorneys notified the judge that most matters scheduled to be heard were likely to be resolved or satisfactorily postponed, they had yet to resolve objections, like LG 37 Doe’s, that were submitted in response to the BSA’s request to pause prosecutions of claims against its local affiliates and councils. The judge asked the parties to continue to try to resolve the issues at hand, and if they could not do so, an evidentiary hearing would be held.
BSA may have a long road ahead of them, but it faintly compares to the lifetime of hurt survivors continually navigate. The qualified attorneys at Aylstock, Witkin, Kreis, and Overholtz represent survivors who were abused during their time with the Boy Scouts of America. Our firm is committed to bringing justice for all survivors. Contact us today to receive additional information.