Boy Scouts of America Filed for Bankruptcy
On February 18, 2020, the Boy Scouts of America filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a result of lawsuits brought by survivors of childhood sexual abuse, including dozens of lawsuits that we filed against the Boy Scouts in California. In 2019 and 2020 we likely filed more lawsuits against the Boy Scouts of America than any other lawyer or law firm in the country. This page provides important information about claims against the Boy Scouts, including important information about the bankruptcy and the November 16, 2020, for abuse survivors to file a claim in the bankruptcy.
The Boy Scouts’ Latest Proposal Raises Serious Concerns for Abuse Survivors: On July 1, 2021, the Boy Scouts announced a new proposal that would allow the Boy Scouts and their local councils to pay around $850 million to approximately 82,500 abuse survivors. While $850 million may sound like a lot of money, such a settlement would result in abuse survivors receiving an average of around $10,000 from the Boy Scouts and their local councils. Such compensation would be on the low end of how much has been paid in prior sexual abuse bankruptcies, if not the lowest by a wide margin. Moreover, the Boy Scouts recently disclosed that the local councils have more than $1.8 billion in unrestricted net assets that could be available to pay abuse survivors, but the councils are collectively paying just $600 million. The local councils in California, alone, are likely able to pay more than what the Boy Scouts are currently offering for all 250+ local councils in the country.
If you filed a claim in the Boy Scout bankruptcy, and if you are represented by an attorney, please ask the attorney if they support this proposal, and if so, why they support it. We and other law firms are going to demand that the Boy Scouts be transparent and tell abuse survivors how much each council is contributing, and if they are not contributing all of their unrestricted net assets, why not. Abuse survivors deserve to know this very basic information before they decide whether to vote “yes” or “no” regarding this latest proposal. If your attorney has questions, please ask them to contact us.
Our Objection to the BSA’s “Disclosure Statement”: The Boy Scouts are required to tell abuse survivors how their legal claims will be affected by their bankruptcy. After reading this “disclosure statement,” abuse survivors are supposed to be able to decide whether they want to vote for or against the Boy Scouts’ plan for emerging from bankruptcy. On May 6, 2021, we filed an objection to the Boy Scouts’ disclosure statement because it fails to provide abuse survivors even the most basic information they need to know in order to decide how to vote. For example, the disclosure statement fails to disclose how much each California local council is contributing to the bankruptcy so an abuse survivor with a claim against a California council can decide whether that council is contributing a fair amount of money in order to be a part of the bankruptcy. The Boy Scouts also fail to disclose any details regarding the $650 million settlement they reached with the Hartford insurance company, which we believe is a small fraction of what Hartford should be paying (it works out to an average of $7,000 per abuse survivors). You can read our objection by clicking here (clicking the link will open a new browser window with the PDF document).
Boy Scout Claim Numbers in California: On March 11, 2021, the “Tort Claimants Committee,” which is a committee of abuse survivors appointed by the bankruptcy court to represent the interests of all abuse survivors, published a report that details the approximate number of claims filed in each state, the number of claims filed against each local council, and the number of claims filed against each chartering organization. You can read the full report by clicking here (clicking this link will open a new browser window with the TCC’s report).
While much attention has been paid to the 85,000+ claims that were filed nationwide, the TCC’s report reflects that approximately 9,346 claims have been filed that allege abuse in California. The report notes that these numbers are likely low because approximately 7,186 claims did not provide a location of abuse. The TCC’s report illustrates the exposure faced by the local councils in California, and why every abuse survivor must demand that these councils disclose how much they are going to contribute to the bankruptcy if they want to settle the claims they are facing:
Greater Los Angeles Council: 1,136 claims
Golden Gate Area (formerly Alameda, Mount Diablo Silverado, and San Francisco Bay Area Councils): 694
California Inland Empire Council: 421
Golden Empire: 417
San Diego-Imperial Council: 385
Orange County Council: 370
Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council: 291
Western Los Angeles County Council: 265
Sequoia Council: 213
Greater Yosemite Council: 199
Long Beach Area Council: 153
Southern Sierra Council: 140
Piedmont Council: 131
Pacific Skyline Council: 118
Los Padres Council: 87
Ventura County Council: 86
Verdugo Hills Council: 71
Redwood Empire Council: 67
Marin Council: 35
The report notes that these claim numbers will likely increase, possibly by significant amounts, because roughly 39,177 claimants did not identify a local council in their claim form.
Boy Scout Survivors — Protect Your Rights Against Local Councils and Sponsoring Orgs: Many abuse survivors in California remain unaware that they likely have a claim against the local council and/or chartering organization that was responsible for their Scouting unit. More importantly, many abuse survivors also do not realize that they may need to take steps to protect their legal rights against those entities — filing a claim in the bankruptcy court did not protect those rights. If you have a claim that could be filed in California, you likely need to file a lawsuit against these entities before the statute of limitations “window” closes. If you need more information about these issues please contact us to make sure you know your legal options, and be aware that some lawyers are not advising their clients of these claims or the need to take steps to protect them.
Choose a Law Firm Who Will Protect *All* of Your Rights: Many people who were abused by a Scout leader, or as a result of the Scouting program, have separate legal claims against three different entities: the national Boy Scouts of America, the “local council” of the Boy Scouts who oversaw their Scouting unit, and the “sponsoring organization” that sponsored or chartered their Scouting unit (usually a church, school, or other youth-serving organization). Although the Boy Scouts (national) knew for decades that men were using their positions as Scout leaders or volunteers to groom and to sexually abuse children, the local councils and sponsoring organizations were most often the ones who received complaints about a specific Scout leader and ignored them, or saw “red flags” about a Scout leader and ignored them. Those entities are just as responsible, if not more responsible, than the national Boy Scouts. Many of them, like the Mormon Church and the Catholic Church, were well aware of the danger of child sexual abuse because of their own problems with their leaders and members abusing children.
The national Boy Scouts of America is the entity that filed for bankruptcy, but the local councils and the sponsoring organizations are currently *not* a part of the Boy Scout bankruptcy. This means many people need to take separate legal action to protect their claims against the local councils and sponsoring organizations who may be responsible for their abuse because those claims may *not* be compensated in the bankruptcy.
If you are looking for an attorney, or already have an attorney, make sure you ask about all of your legal rights, make sure the attorney agrees to protect all of your rights, and make sure the attorney agrees to investigate and pursue any claim you may have for the abuse you suffered. Obviously you must be the one who decides which claim(s) you want to pursue, but you deserve an attorney who will explain all of your legal options so you can make an informed decision.
As with hiring any professional, we recommend you interview multiple law firms, read the “fine print” of their contracts, and confirm in writing that they will protect all of your legal rights and pursue all of your legal claims if that is what you want them to do. If a law firm is only willing to help you in the bankruptcy, or suggests you don’t need to worry about any claim you may have against a local council or sponsoring organization, you may want to consider a different law firm. Please remember that almost any claim you have is governed by a statute of limitations — if a lawyer assumes all of your claims will be covered by the bankruptcy, and the lawyer is wrong, the statute of limitations may expire on your legal claims and you will lose your right to pursue those claims.
We will not comment on the practices of other other law firms other than to note that some firms have been accused of false and misleading advertising in their quest to sign up hundreds or thousands of clients, including failing to adequately inform their own clients of all of their legal rights. While we want all abuse survivors to be aware of the bankruptcy, and aware of the bankruptcy deadline of November 16, 2020, we also want to make sure people are not misled about the bankruptcy, that they understand all of their legal rights, and that they choose which claims they want to pursue. A lawyer should not make that decision for their clients, and a lawyer should make sure their clients understand all of their rights so the client can choose which claims they want to pursue (or not pursue).
Interviews Regarding the Boy Scouts Bankruptcy: Some of our clients have decided to speak out regarding the Boy Scouts bankruptcy and what it means to them. Our lawyers have also been featured in a number of news stories about the bankruptcy because of our long history of helping Boy Scout abuse survivors and our work in a large number of the Catholic bankruptcies. You can read or watch some of the stories by clicking on the links below:
- “Boy Scouts of America files for bankruptcy amid sexual abuse lawsuits” (CBS)
- “Boy Scouts of America files for bankruptcy. Hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits are now on hold” (CNN)
- “Boy Scouts seek bankruptcy, urge victims to step forward” (AP)
You can read more stories regarding our clients and attorneys by clicking here.
What Does the Boy Scouts Bankruptcy Mean for Abuse Survivors? If you were abused by a Scout leader please know a “bankruptcy” only means the Boy Scouts of America (national) was facing so many lawsuits that it needed a bankruptcy judge to decide a fair way to divide its substantial assets and insurance among the abuse survivors who file claims. A “bankruptcy” does not mean abuse survivors will receive no compensation if they file a claim. Some reports state the Boy Scouts have more than $1 billion in assets that may be available to compensate abuse survivors, plus their insurance.
Bankruptcy Deadline / Learn Your Legal Rights: The bankruptcy court set a November 2020 deadline for abuse survivors to file a claim in the bankruptcy. HOWEVER, you may still be able to pursue justice even if you missed that deadline because that deadline did NOT apply to the Boy Scout local councils or the “chartering organizations” who sponsored individual Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs. Please contact us to learn your options.
Historic Day!! We have filed some of the first lawsuits against the Boy Scouts under California’s new law for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Under the new law, all survivors of childhood sexual abuse, regardless of their current age, are provided a three year “window” to file a civil lawsuit for the abuse they suffered. This “window” could be significantly shortened if a defendant files for bankruptcy, so please contact us right away for a free, confidential consultation to learn your options under this new law!!
The Associated Press published a story on the new law that features one of our attorneys, Michael T. Pfau, and one of our clients who survived abused in the Boy Scouts (he decided to speak out and be interviewed). You can read the story by clicking here.
We represent dozens of people who survived sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts in California. The attorneys listed on this website have a significant amount of experience helping survivors of childhood sexual abuse, and we currently represent dozens of people who will be filing claims against the Boy Scouts in California under the new law. If you or someone you love was sexually abused by a Scout leader or someone else associated with the Boy Scouts, please contact us to learn about the new law and to ensure your rights are protected. We provide a free, confidential legal consultation.
Read the Boy Scouts’ “Ineligible Volunteer” files for California. Since the early 1900s, the Boy Scouts of America maintained a list of individuals that it deemed to be “ineligible” to volunteer. Many of those individuals were added to the list over allegations of child sexual abuse.
Below are the names of individuals from that list who were associated with the Boy Scouts in California, along with a link to some or all of the file that the Boy Scouts maintained on each individual.
If you or someone you know were abused by a Boy Scout leader or volunteer, even if it was decades ago, please contact us for a free, confidential consultation to learn your options under the new law.