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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Supreme Court Allows $2.46B Sex Abuse Settlement for Boy Scouts to Move Forward

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WASHINGTON — In a significant development, the Supreme Court on Thursday‌ gave the green light to the‌ Boy Scouts of America’s $2.46 billion settlement with victims of sexual abuse,⁤ thereby ⁤lifting a temporary halt that had been put in place due to an appeal by 144 former scouts who were against the ⁣agreement.

This decision overrules the one made ⁤by Justice Samuel Alito on Feb. ⁢16, ​which had put the settlement on hold to allow ‌the full court more time to review a Feb. 9 request by ⁣abuse claimants ⁣who were trying to⁤ halt the settlement while they pursued appeals.

The Boy Scouts of America had filed for bankruptcy in⁢ 2020 following the enactment of laws⁤ in several U.S. states that allowed victims to sue over abuse allegations⁣ that dated back decades. The organization eventually reached a court-approved settlement in 2022, which would compensate abuse victims with amounts ranging from $3,500 to $2.7 million.

The settlement ⁤encompasses over 82,000 men who have claimed they were abused as children⁣ by troop⁤ leaders while participating ​in ​the Boy Scouts. A significant majority, over 86% of abuse survivors, voted in favor of the agreement ‍in bankruptcy court.

The 144 abuse claimants⁤ argue that the settlement unlawfully prevents them from ⁣filing lawsuits against non-bankrupt entities, such as churches that⁤ operated scouting programs, local Boy Scouts councils, and insurers ​that provided coverage to the Boy Scouts ​organization.

‘A glimmer of hope’

Adam Slater, an attorney representing claimants who⁣ backed the settlement, expressed relief that the Supreme Court did not further⁤ impede the Boy ‍Scouts ‍organization’s efforts to compensate abuse victims.

“Given that more than 12,400 ‍survivors in this case are over the age of ⁤70 and more ⁢than ⁤2,200⁤ are over the age of 80, these courageous individuals deserve to receive compensation within their lifetimes,” Slater ⁤stated.

Gilion Dumas, an attorney representing 67 of the men who have​ appealed, noted that “the longer this (legal⁢ process) goes on, the⁣ harder⁣ it‍ becomes ‍to ⁢reverse” the settlement.

“Securing a Supreme Court stay in a civil case was always a long shot,” Dumas admitted. ⁣”However, we‍ were determined to exhaust all possible avenues to preserve our appeal.”

Their appeal is scheduled⁢ to be heard ⁣by the Philadelphia-based 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on ‌April 9.

‘An ⁤emotional rollercoaster’

The men who have appealed the settlement have ⁤argued that the Boy Scouts case ⁣should remain​ on hold until the Supreme Court ​determines whether‍ U.S. bankruptcy courts have the authority to dismiss legal claims against non-bankrupt individuals and organizations. This issue‍ is currently being considered by the justices⁤ in a case involving the bankruptcy ⁢of ‌OxyContin manufacturer‌ Purdue Pharma.

The Supreme Court will decide whether the owners​ of ⁢Purdue Pharma, members of the affluent⁣ Sackler family, ⁤can be granted immunity in exchange for paying up to $6 billion ​to settle thousands of⁤ lawsuits⁣ over the company’s alleged deceptive marketing of its potent pain medication.

Retired‍ bankruptcy judge ⁤Barbara Houser, the ‌trustee ‌responsible for administering the Boy Scouts settlement, announced following the Supreme Court’s decision that she has “resumed all‌ operations, ⁤including the evaluation and payment‍ of claims.” The settlement trust ⁤has already disbursed ​nearly $8 million to ‍more than 3,000 abuse claimants.

The⁢ Boy Scouts expressed⁣ their approval‌ of ⁣the Supreme Court’s decision.

“This‍ decision allows the trustee to resume her crucial work ‍of compensating survivors, and it provides a path for the BSA to continue its mission of delivering scouting to more than a million young ‍men and women⁣ across the country,” the organization stated.

Douglas Kennedy, an‌ abuse survivor who co-led ‌the official committee representing ‍abuse claimants in the bankruptcy, described ⁢the Supreme Court’s swift ‍decision as good news, but acknowledged that it still represented “another emotionally wrenching twist” in the survivors’ years-long⁤ pursuit ⁤of closure.

“We remain on ​tenterhooks waiting to see what the final resolution will be in the Purdue⁣ case,” Kennedy ⁣said.

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Truth Media Network
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