The Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy judge issued a ruling on Tuesday impeaching a former Delaware bankruptcy judge as mediator, saying a court case filed by the Boy Scouts raised questions about his impartiality.
Judge Laura Selber Silverstein has removed Kevin Carey as one of the mediators tasked with trying to help opposing parties in the case resolve various disputes and reach settlement agreements.
Mr. Carey is no longer a mediator, âSilverstein said in a brief online hearing, noting that she had even considered ending the mediation process altogether.
The impeachment of Carey, who retired as a judge in 2019, leaves just one of three mediators who were appointed by the judge last year. Another mediator, Paul Finn, resigned three weeks ago. Finn then told The Associated Press that he resigned due to “philosophical differences which have existed for some time with other parties and can no longer be reconciled.”
Silverstein said she was forced to act against Carey after the Boy Scouts named him in court filing as the initial ‘special reviewer’ who would assist the trustee overseeing a proposed fund to compensate victims of sexual abuse on children.
“He’s a non-runner,” said the judge.
“To put it simply, Mr. Carey now has an interest in the outcome of the mediation,” explained Silverstein. â… I think there is a reason to question his impartiality. “
Carey declined to comment.
As part of the Boy Scouts reorganization plan, the appointment of the special examiner requires the approval of a group called the Coalition of Abused Scouts for Justice, which is one of the main supporters of the plan. The coalition represents nearly 18,000 asylum seekers and is affiliated with more than two dozen law firms that collectively represent more than 60,000 asylum seekers. The group played a dominant role in the bankruptcy despite the existence of a formal committee tasked with representing the best interests of all of the approximately 82,000 abuse claimants. The coalition has also been at the center of various disputes over information sharing and over how the BSA reorganization plan and trust distribution procedures were developed.
The Boy Scouts, based in Irving, Texas, filed for bankruptcy protection in February 2020, seeking to end hundreds of individual lawsuits and create a fund for men who say they have been sexually abused in their childhood. Although the organization faced 275 lawsuits at the time, it now faces more than 82,000 sexual abuse claims in bankruptcy.
The plan calls for the Boy Scouts and its some 250 local councils to contribute up to $ 820 million in cash and property to a fund for abuse seekers. They would also cede certain insurance rights to the fund. In return, local councils and the national organization would be released from any additional responsibility for sexual abuse complaints.
The plan also includes settlement agreements involving one of the Boy Scouts’ major insurers, The Hartford, and its former largest troop sponsor, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church. . The Hartford has agreed to contribute $ 787 million to the Asylum Seekers Fund, and Mormons have agreed to contribute $ 250 million. In return, the two entities would be released from any further responsibility regarding allegations of child sexual abuse.
Silverstein agreed on Monday to extend the deadline for voting on the December 14 plan by two weeks. The extension comes as some lawyers, and the judge herself, fear that an email and letter distributed last month by lawyers on the official committee representing abuse claimants may have confused and tainted the process. to vote. BSA lawyers also suggested that an extension would give more time to try to negotiate additional settlements.
Meanwhile, BSA lawyer Jessica Lauria told Silverstein last week that only 4,300 abuse seekers had voted as of November 24.
The email and letter that raised concerns about the voting process was sent on behalf of attorney Tim Kosnoff, a vocal opponent of the plan who is urging his clients to vote against. The problem is, Kosnoff shares those clients with two other law firms, one of which categorically urges those same clients to vote for the plan.
Lawyers for the official committee, which also opposes the BSA’s plan as being “grossly unfair,” sent Kosnoff’s email and letter to some 12,900 abuse claimants for whom he serves as co-counsel, but mistakenly added over 7,500 other recipients, including other law firms. and claimants represented by other lawyers.
Lawyers for the Boy Scouts and the coalition say the email and letter confused abuse seekers and disrupted the voting process. They also claim that the committee’s lawyers acted on purpose.