Justice Alito Pauses Abuse Settlement for Boy Scouts Case

By Jerry McConway, updated on February 19, 2024

Over the last decade or so, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has been engulfed in sexual abuse allegations and lawsuits.

There are more than 92,000 claims against the organization, which BSA agreed to start paying as part of its bankruptcy claim, but Supreme Court Justice Alito has just paused the settlements.

Talking Points…
- BSA sexual abuse cases
- Alito pauses settlement
- Analysis

Dating back to 1988, the BSA created the Youth Protection program, designed to educate and prevent sexual abuse. By 1994, there were roughly 2,000 sexual abuse cases reported related to the BSA. Then, in 2010, a complaint was filed against the BSA, resulting in an $18.5 million settlement.

In February 2020, BSA filed for bankruptcy so it could offer “equitable compensation” to victims and their families. At the time, there were almost 2,000 claims that had either been filed or considered potential claims against the organization. When the court set a November 2020 deadline for new cases to be filed against the BSA, more than 90,000 cases had been filed.

As part of the bankruptcy decision, BSA’s insurer agreed to pay $800 million into a survivors fund, and the BSA agreed to add another $2.4 billion.

Alito Pauses BSA Settlement Deal

Even with the large settlement in place, survivors and families were not done filing suits for the sexual abuse that took place within the SBA. An additional motion was filed to block the settlement from moving forward until these families could place additional suits against organizations that promoted the BSA, such as local churches and local Boy Scout councils, that are not bankrupt.

On Friday, Justice Alito stayed the decision "pending further order of the undersigned or of the Court." This will give the court more time to examine the complaint filed by 144 of the abuse victims who want to block the settlement from moving forward until they exhaust all other legal avenues.

The BSA was adamantly against the stay, stating:

"As BSA’s brief in opposition to the stay application explained to the Court, the BSA plan has already been effective for ten months and will fully compensate all Scouting-abuse survivors. Staying that plan now would inflict severe harm on both the Scouting movement and Scouting-abuse survivors, many of whom have already waited decades for compensation and emotional closure.

"We look forward to the Court’s ruling soon on the stay application. We hope the Court will swiftly deny the application and permit the BSA plan’s settlement trustee to resume her work compensating survivors."

John Reeves, an attorney representing the claimants, explained why these victims wanted the settlement paused, stating:

"Only the national Boy Scouts of America organization has declared bankruptcy, but its bankruptcy plan also discharges non-bankrupt Local Councils and Chartered Organizations from civil liability.

"This is a blatant violation of the claimants' due process rights. We look forward to further litigating this issue before the Court, and are cautiously optimistic that it will ultimately grant us a full, permanent stay of the bankruptcy plan."

Analysis

One of the reasons Alito stayed this case was because of another case that is currently before the court. That being the OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma's bankruptcy, which has a very similar issue to settle regarding non-bankrupt people and organizations tied to the initial case. Even though there are some similar issues in the cases, overall, legal experts believe the cases are “starkly different,” and they do not see how the Purdue Pharma case should influence this case.

My initial gut feeling on this is that Alito would allow the other legal avenues to play out, but we also have to consider how this impacts BSA and its ability to both pay the agreed-upon settlement and move forward with its reorganization and pay off the settlement. As the settlement currently stands, awards range between $3,500 and $2.7 million.

About Jerry McConway

Jerry McConway is an independent political author and investigator who lives in Dallas, Texas. He has spent years building a strong following of readers who know that he will write what he believes is true, even if it means criticizing politicians his followers support. His readers have come to expect his integrity.

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