For Scouts Filing Sex-Abuse Lawsuits, “Geography Determines Justice”


Ron Morgan grew up in Idaho, Kerry Lewis in Oregon. Both belonged to Boy Scout troops during the 1980s, and decades later, both filed suit charging the Scouts failed to protect them and other boys against known molesters, reports the Los Angeles Times. In 2010, Lewis won a jury verdict of nearly $20 million against the Scouts, the largest such award in the organization’s history. In Morgan’s case, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that, under state law, it was filed too late.

With the release this week of more than 1,200 confidential files on suspected sex abuse from past decades, the Boy Scouts facee the prospect of a new wave of lawsuits and potentially costly damages. Alleged victims’ ability to get their cases before a jury will vary dramatically by state. Many states have strict statutes of limitation on such allegations, and experts say the likelihood of even finding a lawyer to take decades-old cases can be difficult. Multimillion-dollar verdicts are possible in states such as Oregon and Washington with loose time limits. Recourse could prove far more elusive in states like Alabama and New York. “Geography determines justice. That’s the problem,” said Paul Mones, an Oregon-based attorney who represented Lewis.

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