In the Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy proceeding, the Tort Claimants Committee (or TCC) is tasked with protecting the interests of all survivors that filed claims in the Boy Scouts Bankruptcy. The TCC negotiates with various parties, makes recommendations to survivors, and advocates for BSA abuse victims in Court filings and pleadings. Hurley McKenna & Mertz represent nearly 4,500 victims of Boy Scout abuse, including one victim that is a member of the TCC. Hurley McKenna & Mertz participates in all TCC calls, negotiations, and strategic decisions made on behalf of HMM’s clients and survivors everywhere.
As counsel for a TCC member, HMM has access to thousands upon thousands of documents unavailable to the public and lawyers for other victims. For example, we have thousands of insurance policies for the BSA, local councils, camps, and chartering organizations. We also have access to appraisals of 250 council properties and that number may soon grow to 750.
On January 14, 2021, Chris Hurley and Evan Smola of HMM attended the “virtual” Town Hall meeting of Boy Scout sexual abuse survivors and their attorneys. The Town Hall provided an update as to the status of the bankruptcy proceeding and next steps moving forward. Below are a few common questions based on the topics discussed at the meeting.
Q. What is happening in the Boy Scout bankruptcy proceeding?
Our goal is to force BSA to take responsibility for the its role in the Boy Scouts sexual abuse scandal, and for that to happen, BSA must fully and fairly compensate the victims. Since the claim bar date of November 16, 2020, our efforts have focused on making sure the BSA acts in good faith and contributes all of its available resources to a fund to compensate sexual abuse victims.
HMM’s attorneys meets multiple times per week with various stakeholders in the bankruptcy proceeding. These meetings address issues including:
1) BSA’s Insurance Coverage—Evan Smola of HMM is a member of the TCC subgroup on insurance matters. BSA had billions of dollars of insurance coverage during the periods when Boy Scout sexual abuse occurred, and HMM is involved in weekly meetings to discuss available methods under the law to ensure that BSA’s insurers contribute to the sexual abuse victims’ compensation fund.
2) BSA’s Local Councils—Chris Hurley is the chair of the Local Council TCC subcommittee. BSA’s Local Councils hold assets greatly exceeding that of the BSA—including properties such as camps. HMM is involved in weekly meetings to discuss available methods under the law to ensure that BSA’s local councils contribute to the sexual abuse victims’ compensation fund.
3) Settlement Matters—In cases such as the BSA bankruptcy, in which 90,000 victims have filed claims, the court often requires all parties to engage in settlement discussions with trained settlement mediators. Chris Hurley and Evan Smola meet weekly with the BSA settlement mediator to discuss the potential for a settlement of the victims’ claims.
To date, the BSA has not made any settlement offers to resolve the sexual abuse victims’ claims. In the meantime, we are working to confirm the nature and identity of ALL assets that the BSA has available to contribute to the victims’ compensation fund. Only with this knowledge and the good faith involvement of the BSA, its insurers, local councils and sponsoring organizations can realistic settlement discussions take place.
Q. What will be my recovery?
Ultimately there will be a “trust distribution procedure” which allocates money to compensate the valid claims of individual victims. There will be many, many categories of compensation based on numerous factors: the state where the abuse occurred, the severity of abuse, duration, effect the abuse had on an individual victim, an individual’s willingness to pursue the claim through discovery / depositions, etc.
Each individual claim faces many hurdles, mostly put in place by the BSA and its insurance companies. While we cannot promise you right now what compensation we will obtain for you, HMM’s goal is to make sure each victim we represent obtains a full and fair assessment of his claim and fair compensate under the parameters established by the bankruptcy court. And, as ultimately stated by the judge in one of the very first contested hearings in the BSA bankruptcy: “We all know represented victims do much better in these cases than unrepresented victims.” That remains our belief and we are confident in our abilities to help our clients get the compensation and closure they deserve.
Q. Do I still have time to file a claim?
As of the claims bar date of November 16, 2020, you cannot file a new claim against the BSA in their bankruptcy proceeding. However, victims of sexual abuse may still have time to pursue a case in state court against BSA local councils and sponsoring organizations such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints [sometimes called the Mormon or LDS Church] and Roman Catholic Dioceses and Archdioceses. Whether you can pursue a case in state court against these entities depends on many factors, including the state where the abuse occurred, when it occurred, etc. Contact HMM at https://www.hurley-law.com/mormon-church-sexual-abuse/ for an evaluation of your potential claim.
Q. Can I change or update my claim form, or submit additional evidence?
Once you signed your claim form, the format does not allow edits or alterations to the form. However, we may ask you to submit to us additional information that we may use to file an amendment to your claim form. We may also ask you to submit additional evidence to us—such as photos—that we may use to support your claim. HMM will contact you directly if we determine we need additional information from you.