Boy Scouts Bankruptcy Could Shorten Window For Survivors To File New Suits
This week's decision by the Boy Scouts of America to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy could impact more than 300 lawsuits from men who say they were sexually abused as scouts.
More than two dozen of those men represented by a San Diego-based law firm.
A new California state law created a three-year window for victims of sexual abuse to come forward beginning on Jan. 1. Attorney Irwin Zalkin of the Zalkin Law Firm says that the bankruptcy filing could shorten that window for new claims against the Boy Scouts of America.
"In California now we have this three-year window here. Victims who were barred before can bring their cases forward," Zalkin said. "The bankruptcy judge in Delaware may just say, 'Well, we're going to have a one-year bar date and you're going to have to file your claims within one year.' So there's a certain urgency now for victims of Boy Scout sexual abuse to file a claim within whatever that bar date is going to be."
A bar date is a deadline for filing proofs of claim.
Zalkin also said the bankruptcy filing will stop all lawsuits in their tracks. But he said that doesn't mean the victims won't be able to reach settlements once the bankruptcy is resolved.
"I think the kids need to be protected. I don't think it's right for anybody to hide behind a bankruptcy to get away with something," said Michael Hernandez, one of the men the Zalkin Law Firm is representing. Hernandez says he was abused as a scout in Orange County in 1973 when he was 12 years old.
Recent tax filings show the BSA has $1.4 billion in assets.