Judge approves $2.46 billion Boy Scouts reorganization plan

A bankruptcy judge on Thursday approved a $2.46 billion reorganization plan proposed by the Boy Scouts of America that would allow it to continue operating while compensating tens of thousands of men who say they were sexually abused in their childhood while they were involved in scouting.

Although legal hurdles remain, Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein’s decision in Delaware marked an important milestone for the BSA, which filed for bankruptcy protection more than two years ago to avoid a flood of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse of children by Scout leaders and volunteers.

Lawyers for some of the victims said the amount an individual survivor can receive from the bankruptcy plan depends on several factors related to the alleged abuse. The plan asks the BSA and its local councils, as well as insurance companies and troop-sponsoring organizations, including Catholic institutions and parishes, to contribute to a fund for survivors. In return, these groups would be shielded from future lawsuits over allegations of Boy Scout-related abuse.

More than 80,000 men have filed complaints saying they were abused as children by troop leaders across the country.

“Credit to the brave survivors that this breakthrough in child and Scout safety has been achieved,” said attorney Jeff Anderson, whose firm represented more than 800 survivors of Boy Scout abuse.

Anderson said most of the $2.46 billion was to be paid out to survivors, but some funds would be set aside in a trust to pursue litigation against entities that haven’t settled, primarily insurance companies. insurance.

It will likely take months for any of the abuse claimants to receive compensation.

Anderson said the settlement has drawn mixed reactions from his clients. Many are proud to have stood up and demanded the cleanup of Boy Scouts based in Irving, Texas, while others feel like they were fired because the organization “hid behind statute of limitations” in some states.

The Boy Scouts of America said it was pleased the court approved its reorganization plan.

“We continue to be extremely grateful to the community of survivors, whose courage, patience and willingness to share their experiences have been instrumental in shaping this plan,” the organization said in a statement.

The Boy Scouts said the perspectives and priorities of survivors “will be rooted in BSA programming going forward.”

The BSA also said that because some parties have said they plan to appeal the order, the organization will then initiate an appeals process to get out of Chapter 11, “which will allow survivors to be fairly compensated and to preserve the mission of Scouting for the future”. generations. »

A federal district judge must approve Silberstein’s decision.

When it filed for bankruptcy, the BSA faced approximately 275 lawsuits and was aware of many other potential cases. More than 80,000 abuse claims were ultimately filed in the bankruptcy.

Lawyers for BSA insurers argued early on that the sheer volume of claims was an indication of fraud and the result of aggressive customer solicitation by lawyers and for-profit claims aggregators. While some of those insurers later negotiated settlements, other insurers continued to oppose the plan. They argued that the procedures for distributing compensation trust funds would violate their contractual rights to contest claims and set a dangerous precedent for mass litigation.

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Associated Press writer Sarah Rankin in Richmond, Va., contributed to this report.

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