Who is paying for the Proof of Claim?
The Annual Conference is supporting the local churches by paying the initial proof of claim filing with Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP.
What type of Boy Scout programs are included in the legal filings?
Your congregation should be included in the Proof of Claim is you have chartered or hosted any of the following:
- Cub Scouts
- Blazer Scouts
- Sea Scouts
- Explorer Scout Posts
- Boy Scout Troops
- Other affiliated Boy Scout programs
Why do I need to review records for 50 years?
The imperative for this historic review is due to the nature of potential sexual abuse claims after the claim deadline. Most of the sexual abuse cases coming up now are related to actions that happened 30+ years ago. It may not matter if the abuse happened in the 1970s, and it may not matter if you think your church has nothing to do with a BSA Unit other than allowing them to use space for meetings. Even if you are currently unaware of any potential claims against a BSA Unit if your church had been a Charter Organization going back over 50 years ago, your local church may still be fully responsible for damages arising out of a sexual molestation that far back.
What is the urgency?
A Proof of Claim will provide some protection for local church chartering organizations. All Proofs of Claim must be filed with the trustee in bankruptcy, no later than November 16, 2020 at 5pm EST. GNJ will need to have a list of all churches who will be impacted by October 30, 2020 in order to compile the Proof of Claim.
What is the difference between hosting a Boy Scout Troop and chartering a Boy Scout Troop?
Many churches allow outside organizations like, the Boys Scouts to rent their buildings for meetings. In other cases, the church itself has chartered a Boy Scout Troop or sponsors a Boy Scout Unit. In this case the church signs an “Annual Charter Agreement” which suggests that the church is effectively responsible for conducting the Scouting program in its entirety, including the selection and screening of adult volunteers. As such, a local church that serves as a Charter Organization could be liable for a sexual abuse claim. Because the formal arrangement with the BSA provided coverage for the BSA, GNJ churches did not have financial exposure. The bankruptcy changes the financial exposure for churches that have served as chartering organizations.
What is the financial risk?
If a sexual abuse claim arises, a plaintiff likely sues the national BSA organization, the local Council of the BSA, the local Troop, and the Chartering Organization. Bankruptcy can eliminate the debts of a debtor. Bankruptcy can also extinguish judgements and future claims against the debtor – particularly if the future claim is based on an act that happened before the bankruptcy proceeding. Accordingly, if the BSA goes through the bankruptcy and extinguishes liabilities related to sexual abuse claims, a chartering organization (including our affected local churches) may be the last entity standing with potential liability. The concern is that absent a new Indemnification agreement with the BSA, chartering organizations may lose rights of presently existing protections because of the Bankruptcy.
Is there a denominational action?
Denominational legal leaders from the General Council of Finance and Administration are considering coordinating efforts to try and maximize the leverage of all affected United Methodist churches. This might involve the establishment of a central source for filing of all notices of claims. It also may include a uniform United Methodist effort to join with all other similarly impacted in order to collectively negotiate with the BSA and the bankruptcy trustee during the course of the litigation with the goal of concluding an amicable arrangement going forward. We will keep you posted if these steps are initiated.
What are the deadlines?
GNJ needs your response by October 30, 2020 to meet the deadline for filing a Proof of Claims form on November 16, 2020 at 5pm EST.
Where do I go for questions?
You can email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.