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For over a century, the Boy Scouts of America has touted a series of twelve core values outlined in Scout Law. The law dictates that “a Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.” Unfortunately, many in BSA leadership positions have not upheld these central values, as evidenced by hundreds of lawsuits resulting from the sexual abuse of thousands of Boy Scouts. Since the mid-1960s, lawsuits have been brought against BSA in all 50 states, outlining a pattern of repeated abuse among local council leaders and negligence on the part of the national organization.
While BSA officials acknowledged this problem in the early 1980s, little has been done since to purge abusers from Scout ranks. What’s more, a number of scouting programs have faced scrutiny for rehiring past offenders for leadership roles. As BSA’s top executive once admitted, “This has been a problem since the Boy Scouts began.”
In February 2020, the issue of rampant sexual assault allegations came to a head for the Boy Scouts of America, when the organization decided to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. In so doing, all opportunities for civil litigation against the organization were suspended indefinitely. The BSA released a statement after the bankruptcy filing was announced, claiming it made the decision on the grounds that BSA remain able to continue its charitable mission while adequately compensating survivors of sexual abuse.
While critics of the decision describe it as a face-saving measure, the fact remains that abuse victims now face significant constraints related to their ability to sue BSA for the abuse they endured. Survivors still have an opportunity to pursue justice, but time is running out to meet an essential deadline related to BSA’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing. Keep reading to learn how claimants can present their best case and how an experienced attorney can produce better outcomes for victims.
A proof-of-claim deadline is currently set for November 16, 2020, in the Boy Scout Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. This means victims of abuse pursuing just compensation for their injuries need to submit an official bankruptcy claim form for consideration by the court. This document outlines a claimant’s right to pursue the assets of a debtor. If this document is properly filled out and submitted on time, a decision will be rendered to the filer as to whether his or her claim was accepted or denied.
Individuals of any age who participated in Boy Scout programs before November 16, 2020, and subsequently suffered abuse at the hands of a scoutmaster, troop leader, or BSA volunteer are potentially eligible for Chapter 11 bankruptcy settlement distributions. Ultimately, individual eligibility will be determined by a court-appointed, independent trustee tasked with equitably dispersing settlement funds to qualified abuse survivors.
While the amount of compensation awarded to eligible abuse survivors will vary based on individual circumstances and the discretion of the trustee, this process was designed to cover more victims than case-by-case litigation. In short, because BSA no longer has to pay legal fees for hundreds of cases, they have more funds to distribute to a larger pool of victims. Claimants pursuing significant compensation for their injuries will benefit from an experienced attorney with a history of successfully litigating personal injury and abuse cases.
A press release issued by the Boy Scouts of America following its bankruptcy announcement indicated that local troops and councils should remain mostly unaffected, as each operates independently of the national organization—though they do receive funding directly from BSA. Current and future Boy Scouts can rest assured the scouting tradition will remain a fixture of American boyhood for years to come, although hopefully under safer circumstances.
Wisconsin BSA abuse survivors pursuing financial restitution must file an official proof-of-claim form by the above-listed deadline. While the form itself is a relatively simple three-part document, filers may be asked to provide more in-depth supporting documentation in order for the trustee to properly evaluate their claims. A licensed Wisconsin attorney with experience litigating both personal injury and bankruptcy cases can produce better outcomes for clients who would have otherwise filed without legal counsel.
An experienced lawyer can also provide structured guidance throughout the filing process and propose ways to improve individual claims. Filers would be wise to seek out attorneys offering free consultations or case reviews. These can be extremely helpful, risk-free opportunities for survivors to explore the legal avenues available to them.
Nicolet Law Accident & Injury Lawyers encourages BSA abuse victims to explore the full range of legal options available to them by requesting a free case review with one of our experienced, compassionate attorneys. Survivors can schedule their risk-free consultation by calling 1-855-NICOLET, or by using our secure contact form to reach a dedicated lawyer today.
We proudly serve Wisconsin BSA abuse victims on a contingency basis, meaning clients will not pay unless they receive equitable compensation for their injuries. If we receive a favorable judgment on a client’s behalf, our fees and court costs will be deducted from the settlement distribution. At Nicolet Law, our clients will never have to choose between justice and their financial well-being. Our team of experienced, local attorneys will be there every step of the way. That’s our guarantee.