Boy Scouts lawsuit of America insurance companies pressed the bankrupt youth organization on Thursday about what they claim are unfair systems for reviewing the legitimacy and volume of sex-abuse claims that they worry they may be forced to pay.
As part of the Boy Scouts’ lawsuit proposed settlement of tens of thousands of sex-abuse claims and restructuring plan, which began on Monday in Delaware bankruptcy court, the disagreement has emerged as a crucial source of contention throughout the hearing.
For the company to emerge from Chapter 11, it must obtain approval of the plan from U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein. The hearing, which will likely continue several more days, is the final stage in obtaining authorization from Judge Silverstein.
According to their attorneys, several insurance companies are encouraging Silverstein to reject the settlement because the process for evaluating the claims is not robust enough.
The Boy Scouts lawsuit of America filed for bankruptcy protection in February 2020 to handle significant allegations of sexual assault by troop leaders against males who claim they were victimized as youths. More than 82,000 abuse accusations were made in the bankruptcy court system during that period.
According to the proposed settlement, the Boy Scouts would establish a $2.7 billion trust fund to pay abuse survivors who have filed claims against the organization. Although several insurers, like AIG and Continental Insurance Company, contend that plaintiffs’ attorneys who stand to get hefty contingency fees had too much influence over the drafting of procedures to review claims, this could result in payouts for claims that are not valid.
They also believe that the scheme, which would have appointed administrators to examine the claims, would have stripped them of their ability to contest those claims. Aside from other elements, the administrators who evaluate the accusations will have to take into account the severity of the alleged abuse and the time and place where it occurred.
During the bankruptcy proceedings, the insurers suggested that advertising tactics by some plaintiffs’ lawyers may have resulted in the filing of claims in cases where no abuse had happened.
According to Adrian Azer, a lawyer for the Boy Scouts lawsuit from Haynes and Boone, the procedures were not created to limit insurers’ capacity to defend themselves against claim coverage, and the organization was not attempting to “pre-judge” their rights. The trial is only a few weeks after the Boy Scouts lawsuit reached a deal with the official abuse claims committee, which the United States bankruptcy trustee created to represent all sexual abuse survivors.
However, the committee, which had long argued that the BSA’s proposal was “grossly unfair” to abuse victims, said last month that it had gained significant concessions from the BSA.
For example, the amended plan allows abuse claims to file lawsuits against insurance companies and local troop-sponsoring organizations, such as churches and civic groups, if they do not settle within one year of the restructuring plan. It also includes strengthened kid protection measures and procedures to ensure that the compensation fund is administered independently.
According to attorneys opposed to the plan, liability releases for non-debtor third parties are neither fair nor essential. They interfere with the rights of abuse survivors to seek compensation for their mistreatment.
The Boy Scouts of America lawsuit , based in Irving, Texas, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in February 2020, hoping to end hundreds of individual litigation and establish a settlement trust for abuse victims who had been wronged. Although the organization was facing approximately 275 lawsuits at the time, more than 82,000 sexual assault claims have been filed as part of the bankruptcy proceedings.
Boys Scouts of America lawsuit and its 250 local councils, along with settling insurance companies and troop sponsoring organizations, are expected to contribute approximately $2.6 billion in cash and property, and their insurance rights will be assigned to a settlement trust fund for abuse victims under the terms of the reorganization plan.
In exchange, the parties that contributed to the settlement trust would be relieved of any further blame for sexual abuse claims filed decades before the deal was reached.
Although the local Boy Scout lawsuit councils are not named debtors in this bankruptcy case, they were represented by Boy Scouts attorney Jessica Lauria, who argued that they were inextricably linked to the national organization and deserved to be shielded from future lawsuits in exchange for contributing to a compensation fund.
According to Lauria, “There can be no doubt that there is an identity of interests, and simply, an excessive interconnection, between local councils and the national organization.” In a similar vein, Sponsoring organizations are tightly related to the Boy Scouts of America and local councils and are essential to their operations, according to her.
Judge Laura Selber Silverstein was told by Richard Mason, an attorney for the local councils, that if the liability releases are not obtained, the compensation fund “essentially vanishes.” Judge Mason agreed.
If the BSA’s plan is not approved, local councils will be subjected to “huge litigation.” They may be compelled to file for bankruptcy protection on their own, potentially jeopardizing the survival of Scouting and the possibility of abuse survivors collecting compensation, according to Mason.https://thelawaroundhere.com/2022/05/01/is-impersonating-a-police-officer-a-felony-in-2022/
On the other hand, opponents questioned why the liability releases for local councils and the sponsoring organization are required for the BSA to exit from bankruptcy protection. Specifically, they pointed out that the Boy Scouts of America lawsuit suggested a plan last year under which the settlement trust would be funded solely by the national organization and would only be used to settle claims brought against the organization. The councils and local sponsoring groups would not be required to contribute and would not be protected from liability in the event of abuse claims under that arrangement.
As Silverstein pointed out, “debtors said that was realistic and feasible.” ”
Why it’s vital to have such a detailed, interwoven, and interlaced plan for the Boy Scouts lawsuit?”
Lauria said that while the “BSA-only approach” may have been viable when it was first offered, it was never “ideal” in the long run. She also stated that the BSA had spent an additional $100 million on professional expenses related to the bankruptcy since then. The organization currently does not have the financial wherewithal to pay a settlement trust on its own.
Caldie asserted that the BSA plan would funnel claims against the Guam diocese into the planned BSA settlement trust without the approval of survivors and that this would unfairly deprive them of the chance to pursue BSA insurance plans.
Caldie accused the settlement insurers of employing “extortionist” techniques in their negotiations with the Boy Scouts to acquire liability releases to which they were not otherwise entitled under the policies they had issued in the first place.
Aside from that, he disagreed with the premise that a relatively small number of survivors should be allowed to interfere with accepting a reorganization plan supported by tens of thousands of additional claimants.
In the words of Caldie, “From a common-sense standpoint, the BSA decided to ignore and silence survivors of child sexual abuse for decades, and they did not report their offenders for decades.” In the current climate, the Guam survivors are not very comfortable with ‘greater good’ justifications, particularly those advanced by the BSA.