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Churches Urged to File Legal Document in Boy Scouts Lawsuit

10/22/2020

The UMC's General Council on Finance and Administration sent notice Oct. 21 to conference chancellors, treasurers and bishops, urging them to organize any local churches that have chartered Scout programs, even if the programs aren’t currently active, to file a “proof of claim.” United Methodist News Service offers an overview of the situation in this recent article: "Churches Urged to FIle Legal Document in Boy Scounts Law Suit."

North Georgia Conference churches have until Wednesday, November 4, 2020, to complete the Church Authorization for Legal Action form linked at the end of this email.

If your congregation currently charters or has ever chartered a Boy Scout Troop or Cub Scout Pack and your Trustee Chair (or equivalent) has not yet completed the form, please review the information below.
 

Important Notice

On February 18, 2020, the Boy Scouts of America (“BSA”) and its affiliate, Delaware BSA, LLC, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a case styled In re Boy Scouts of America and Delaware BSA, LLC, case no. 20-10343, pending in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware. BSA filed their bankruptcy case to address the significant liability it faces from sexual abuse claims asserted (or to be asserted in the future) by Scouts and former Scouts.
 
BSA, which has numerous affiliated Local Councils, ultimately operates through the organizations authorized to operate scouting units as “Chartered Organizations,” pursuant to Charter Agreements between the organization and a Local Council. Many of the Churches in The North Georgia Annual Conference currently serve or have served as a BSA Chartered Organization. Historically, BSA has indemnified, reimbursed, insured against, or otherwise covered any sexual abuse claims asserted by Scouts against Chartered Organizations. It is too early in the bankruptcy case to tell how the claims of Chartered Organizations will be addressed and what types of protections Chartered Organizations will be provided with respect to any abuse claims that may be asserted by Scouts in the future. These important issues will likely be addressed through negotiations in the bankruptcy case among various constituents, including BSA, BSA Local Councils, insurance carriers, personal injury attorneys for sexually abused Scouts, a court-appointed future claimants’ representative, and Chartered Organizations.
 
The Bar Date, or final deadline, for filing proofs of claim in the BSA bankruptcy case is November 16, 2020.  If your Church was at any time, or is currently, a Chartered Organization for the Boy Scouts, then your Church may potentially be named as a defendant in future litigation as the result of its operation of a Scouting unit. Even though such litigation has not yet been, and may never be, filed, your Church has what is considered a “contingent and unliquidated” claim against BSA for the as yet undetermined amount of damages that might be awarded in future Scouting-related abuse claims asserted against your Church. If your Church was at any time, or is currently, a Chartered Organization, a proof of claim should be filed in the bankruptcy case with the court-appointed claims agent in order to preserve the Church’s claim and protect the Church’s rights.  If your Church is or has been a Chartered Organization, your Church may lose valuable rights if it fails to timely file a proof of claim in the BSA bankruptcy case by the November 16, 2020 Bar Date for filing proofs of claims.
 
To facilitate the proof of claim filing process, the North Georgia Conference has joined forces with the Florida Conference and potentially several others to retain the law firm of Bradley Arant Boult Cummings, LLP (“Bradley”) to file proofs of claim on behalf of any Church in the North Georgia Conference that is or has been a Chartered Organization for the Boy Scouts. To have Bradley file a contingent and unliquidated proof of claim on your Church’s behalf in the BSA bankruptcy case regarding future Scout abuse claims, you must Click Here to indicate that you authorize the Bradley firm to file a proof of claim on your church’s behalf and to provide ongoing representation of the church in the BSA bankruptcy proceedings. Please consider this matter as requiring urgent action and respond before November 4, 2020. 
 
Attorney Ed Rice (read his Bio here), in Bradley’s Bankruptcy Practice Group, has been retained to serve as lead counsel in this matter. You will be kept informed with periodic updates.
 
If you have any questions on this procedure, please email communications@ngumc.org
 

 
Boy Scouts of America Bankruptcy Case:
Church Authorization for Legal Representation
Frequently Asked Questions

 
On October 22 you received important information about the opportunity to file a Proof of Claim in the Boy Scouts of America Bankruptcy Case. Below are answers to several Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Does my church need to complete the Legal Authorization Form?
If your church currently charters or has ever chartered a Boy Scout Troop or Cub Scout Pack your church chair of trustees or equivalent should strongly consider completing the form.

2. Why do we have a relatively short time to respond?
It has only recently been made clear that Chartering Organizations have potential standing in the BSA bankruptcy proceedings and should file a proof of claim to protect their interests. Please complete the form by November 4. 

3. Why is this necessary?
The contract all local churches (Chartered Organizations) sign with Boy Scouts of America includes a provision that BSA will indemnify and insure the local church. BSA went to court and filed a bankruptcy petition and by doing so is asking the court to void their contractual obligation to the local churches. Our church trustees have an obligation to protect their local churches. Filing a Proof of Claim is a necessary measure.

4. Who will pay for the legal representation we are being asked to authorize?
The initial legal expense related to the filing of the proof of claim is being paid by the North Georgia Conference.

5. Other than completing the Legal Authorization Form, what else do we need to do?
You don’t need to do anything else at this time


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