A federal district court judge has upheld the approval of a $2.4 billion bankruptcy reorganization plan aimed at resolving tens of thousands of child sexual abuse claims against the Boy Scouts of America. The ruling docketed Tuesday rejects arguments by non-settling insurance companies and attorneys representing dissenting abuse survivors that the reorganization plan was not proposed in good faith and improperly strips the insurers and survivors of their rights, the AP reports. The ruling follows a September decision in which US Bankruptcy Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein approved the plan. The plan would allow the Irving, Texas-based Boy Scouts of America to continue operating while compensating tens of thousands of men who say they were sexually abused as children while involved in Scouting.
More than 80,000 men have filed claims saying they were abused as children by troop leaders around the country. Plan opponents say the staggering number of claims, when combined with other factors, suggests that the bankruptcy process was manipulated. While affirming Silverstein’s description of the proceedings as "an extraordinary case by any measure," US District Court Judge Richard Andrews found no fault with her ruling. "Based on the record, the appellants have failed to put forth evidence that would demonstrate clear error in the bankruptcy court’s careful findings of facts," Andrews wrote.
The BSA issued a statement describing the ruling as "a pivotal milestone" that "solidifies a path forward for both survivors and Scouting." "We look forward to the organization’s exit from bankruptcy in the near future and firmly believe that the mission of Scouting will be preserved for future generations," the statement added.
Under the plan, which the BSA describes as a "carefully calibrated compromise," the BSA itself would contribute less than 10% of the proposed settlement fund. The local BSA councils, which run day-to-day operations for troops, offered to contribute at least $515 million in cash and property, conditioned on certain protections for local troop sponsoring organizations, including religious entities, civic associations, and community groups. The bulk of the compensation fund would come from the BSA’s two largest insurers, Century Indemnity and The Hartford, which reached settlements calling for them to contribute $800 million and $787 million, respectively.
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