The Boy Scouts of America organization recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in federal court in Delaware, claiming financial hardship. Some people believe that the bankruptcy is less about financial problems, however, and more focused on halting the barrage of lawsuits filed against the Scouts in recent months.
The Recent Flood of Lawsuits
The Boy Scouts have been in the spotlight for years due to many different accusations of child sex abuse by Scout leaders and affiliated parties. However, the statutes of limitations in many states regarding sex abuse claims prevented many abuse victims from filing lawsuits to hold the Scouts accountable and seek damages for the harm caused.
In the past year, numerous states changed their laws, expanding the statute of limitations to allow more victims to come forward in civil court. In addition, many states opened a temporary window that allowed abuse victims to file lawsuits regardless of how much time had passed or their current age. Changes in 2019 alone include:
- 15 states extending the statute of limitations for civil sex abuse claims = Alabama, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, District of Columbia
- 1 state eliminated the statute of limitations for civil sex abuse claims = Vermont
- 9 states opened a window for civil claims outside of the statute of limitations = Arizona, California, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Vermont, District of Columbia
In the above states, the doors opened for abuse victims to file lawsuits when they were previously barred from doing so. The result has been at least 275 lawsuits already pending against the Boy Scouts, with possibly thousands more being prepared to file. Every victim of sex abuse at the hands of this organization deserves to receive justice and compensation for the abuse the Scouts allowed to occur.
Bankruptcy Filing’s Effect on Lawsuits
While the Boy Scouts have experienced financial setbacks, especially due to losing members for a variety of reasons, another benefit of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy is the automatic stay. This stay halts all legal actions against a bankruptcy filer, including civil lawsuits. The Scouts have seen the rising number of lawsuits being filed, as well as insurance companies refusing to cover liability for the organization due to the failure of the Scouts to prevent the widespread child abuse.
While plaintiffs or people considering lawsuits might be worried they will not have their day in court, some reports suspect the Boy Scouts will be forced to amass a compensation trust fund for victims – possibly over $1 billion – as part of the legal proceedings. This might require the Scouts to sell significant property and assets, and the Chapter 11 filing might not effectively prevent liability to victims.
Contact a New Jersey Boy Scouts Sex Abuse Attorney
New Jersey is one of the states that has provided new opportunities for victims of sex abuse to file claims. If you believe you might have a case against the Boy Scouts, Catholic Church, or other establishments, set up a free and confidential consultation with Leonard Legal Group. Our dedicated sex abuse lawyers are waiting to help, so please call 973-984-1414 or contact us online today.