Bankruptcy Update: At 5:00 pm on November 16, 2020, the deadline to file sexual abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America expired. At its closing, more than 92,000 victims had filed claims against the scouting organization.
In February 2020, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) sought bankruptcy protection. This was a strategic move to manage the costs of sexual abuse lawsuits against the national scouting organization.
Sex abuse survivors seeking compensation must now file their claims through the bankruptcy court. The bankruptcy deadline for BSA sex abuse claims is November 16, 2020. This gives victims limited time to file a sexual abuse claim through the bankruptcy proceedings.
The Boy Scouts is expected to face at least 10,000 sexual abuse claims during bankruptcy proceedings. Victims who do not file a claim by the deadline will have to wait to pursue compensation until the proceedings are resolved. It is unknown how they would pursue compensation at that time, but one possibility is through a victim compensation fund.
How Bankruptcy Affects Child Sexual Abuse Survivors
When an organization files for bankruptcy, all lawsuits against the organization are suspended. Instead of pursuing class actions or individual civil lawsuits, victims are forced to file a claim through bankruptcy court to receive compensation.
Although proponents of this strategy believe bankruptcy will help victims, this assertion does not consider individual state laws. In states that have enacted a “look back” period, bankruptcies shorten the timeline by which victims have to file a claim.
States That Recently Opened “Look Back” Windows
The Boy Scouts is the latest in a string of non-profit groups seeking bankruptcy protection after ignoring complaints for years. Since 2004, more than 20 Catholic dioceses across the country have filed for bankruptcy over abuse claims against the Church.
For many of these organizations, bankruptcy offers a way to escape the cost of large verdicts, legal fees and settlements. Although victims generally receive compensation through bankruptcy proceedings, it is often significantly less than they could win through litigation.
Deadline Set For Boy Scout Sexual Abuse Victims
Creditor and Boy Scouts attorneys argued for several weeks over the proposed victim deadline. In its initial filing, the Boy Scouts proposed an 80-day window for sex abuse victims to file a claim. The original proposal was denied in favor of a lengthier window for abuse survivors to file in.
The newly agreed-upon deadline offers victims up to six months to submit a claim. All sex abuse claims against the Boy Scouts must have been filed by 5 pm EST on Wednesday, November 16, 2020.
The Boy Scouts Will Market The Deadline
As part of the bankruptcy court order, the Boy Scouts must roll out a multi-million dollar public awareness campaign. This campaign informs victims of the proceedings and encourages them to file claims.
The campaign will cost nearly $7 million and utilize mail and email communications to those who have already filed complaints. The campaign will also run national print and television advertisements.
How To File A Claim With The Boy Scouts
In the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, actions with more than 200 claimants must use a Claims and Noticing Agent. Omni Agent Solutions is assigned to the Boy Scouts’ bankruptcy case.
To file a claim, victims must submit a Sexual Survivor Proof of Claim with Omni Agent Solutions through its website or by mail.
Omni Agent Solutions has set up online claim filing through its website. There is also useful information on the website about the claims process to answer survivors’ questions.
The group’s website indicates victims should submit a Sexual Abuse Survivor Proof of Claim regardless of current age or the amount of time that has passed since the abuse took place. Claimants are encouraged to file even if they cannot recall all of the details of the incident and/or the state’s statute of limitations has run out.
Claims Against The Boy Scouts Continue To Mount
Based on an internal Boy Scouts investigation, an expert testified that more than 7,800 leaders or volunteers abused roughly 12,000 victims over the course of seven decades.
Boy Scouts 2020 Bankruptcy Update
Experts predicted roughly 10,000 sexual abuse claims would be filed against the Boy Scouts through the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. But, the final number is much greater.
A few hours before the November 16, 2020 filing deadline ended, 88,500 claims had been filed with the court. By the time the deadline expired, 92,700 survivors had filed claims.
Now that the deadline has passed, the court will review the claims and the Boy Scouts will establish a victim compensation fund to pay claimants. The total compensation amount has yet to be determined. Consequently, it is too early to know how much individual claimants will receive.
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Kelly, C. (2020, May 26). Deadline set for abuse survivors to file claims in Boy Scouts bankruptcy. USA Today.
Kelly, C., Schnell, L., Bomey, N. (2020, February 19). Boy Scouts says it’s safe, and offers sex abuse victims just 80 days to file claim. Victims balk. USA Today.
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