Alito pauses Boy Scouts abuse settlement during Supreme Court appeal

 February 18, 2024

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has temporarily halted a $2.46 billion settlement by the Boy Scouts of America concerning decades of sexual abuse following an appeal by a group.

Alito issued a brief on Friday freezing the settlement "pending further order of the undersigned or of the Court," allowing for additional time to consider the request by claimants to block the settlement.

The appeal

The appeal contends that the settlement prohibits the pursuit of lawsuits against non-bankrupt organizations.

Last March, a District Court in Delaware dismissed arguments challenging the more than $2 billion bankruptcy plan for the organization, as reported by The Associated Press.

Over 80,000 men have filed claims alleging abuse by leaders across the country within the Texas-based organization during their childhood.

Kennedy's reaction

Federal Judge Doug Kennedy, an abuse survivor who led the appealing group, expressed disappointment with the delay, describing it as "horrible." Kennedy emphasized the decades-long wait for addressing survivors' abuse.

The Boy Scouts of America has urged the Supreme Court not to impede the settlement's progress, citing potential repercussions on the organization's scouting program and its mission, according to reports.

The organization characterizes the settlement as a "carefully calibrated compromise," with its contribution amounting to less than 10 percent, while the majority of funds would come from its major insurers.

The ongoing controversy

Seeking bankruptcy protection in February 2020 amidst facing at least 275 lawsuits, the organization's proposed settlement includes liability releases safeguarding insurance firms, local scout councils, and troop-sponsoring entities from future sex abuse lawsuits in exchange for financial contributions to the fund.

"The abuse claimants appealing the settlement had argued that an immediate halt was necessary due to a Friday deadline for claimants to decide whether to opt into a more thorough review of their sex abuse claims. People who chose that option would have to pay $10,000 up front, but they could be eligible for a higher payout than a default formula for evaluating claims under the settlement," Reuters reported.
"Trustee Houser said on Thursday that the claimants who filed the appeal should have acted sooner to challenge the deadline, rather than citing the deadline as a reason to stop the entire settlement in its tracks," it added.

Claimants appealing the settlement argue for a pause due to a looming Friday deadline to opt in for a more comprehensive review of their claims.

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