US Supreme Court pauses bankruptcy settlement in Boy Scouts of America sexual abuse cases News
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US Supreme Court pauses bankruptcy settlement in Boy Scouts of America sexual abuse cases

US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito granted a stay order Friday to appellants contesting the terms of a $2.46 billion settlement between sexual abuse victims and the Boy Scouts of America (BSA).

BSA declared bankruptcy in 2020 amid thousands of lawsuits for sexual abuse against Scout Leaders. A settlement was approved by a bankruptcy judge in September of 2022 and upheld by a federal court in March of the following year.

Despite the approvals a group of 67 abuse victims appealed the settlement contending it is unlawful since it prevents further claims against third parties involved in the abuse that are not in bankruptcy, essentially providing immunity for insurers, local Scout councils and churches that were running scouting programs.

Plaintiffs claims are similar to those of the plaintiffs in the ongoing Purdue Pharma lawsuits, where the Sackler family, the owners of Purdue Pharma, were granted immunity from further civil lawsuits in exchange for a $6 billion settlement for victims of the opioid epidemic which Purdue helped fuel with the addictive painkiller OxyContin. This Supreme Court heard arguments on this issue on December 4, but have yet to release an opinion.

In the application for a stay lawyers for BSA abuse victims argued that the continued dispensation of funds from the settlement and the arrival of a deadline for independent review of abuse claims warranted a temporary administrative stay of the settlement until the appeal could be heard. The application accused BSA of attempting to “sweep [the] matter under the rug” before the Supreme Court could issue its ruling in the Purdue case.

Doug Kennedy, co-leader of the committee representing abuse claimants in the bankruptcy proceedings, decried the stay order citing the years that abuse survivors have already waited for justice and pointed toward the 86% majority of survivors that voted in favor of the settlement.