Posted Oct 22, 2012 04:00 pm CDT
Newly public internal “ineligible volunteer” files kept by the Boy Scouts of America, some of them decades old, could lead to additional child sex-abuse litigation against the nonprofit group, in states such as Oregon and Washington that have generous statutes of limitation concerning the time frame in which lawsuits must be filed.
But in other states, such as Alabama and New York, the time for such suits may be long past, reports the the Los Angeles Times’ L.A. Now blog.
“Geography determines justice. That’s the problem,” said attorney Paul Mones. The Oregon attorney represented Kerry Lewis, who won a record jury verdict of almost $20 million from the Scouts, concerning his 1980s participation in the organization.
If those deciding such cases determine that the defendant organization has acted recklessly, hefty punitive damages can be awarded, possibly leading to bankruptcy filings, as in some priest-abuse cases against the Catholic Church, the newspaper notes. The potential for hefty damages at least arguably weighs against extended statutes of limitation, since it is difficult to defend such cases long after the event, when witnesses including the claimed perpetrator may not be available.
Additional and related coverage:
ABAJournal.com: “LA Times Unveils Database of Boy Scouts’ Files; Top Oregon Court Order May Spark New Civil Cases”
Baltimore Sun: “Boy Scout files reveal 90 cases of alleged sexual abuse in Maryland”
Forbes: “Boy Scout Case, Hate It Or Not, Shows Social Value Of Litigation”
Motherlode (New York Times): “Examining Whether Times Have Changed When Abuse Charges Surface”