Lawyer’s Insulting Tweets Disrupt Boy Scouts Bankruptcy Vote
(Bloomberg) -- A lawyer’s inflammatory messages to alleged sex abuse victims is threatening to disrupt the voting for a plan proposed by the Boy Scouts of America to set up a $1.9 billion compensation trust fund.
Timothy Kosnoff, who represents some of the people who filed abuse claims against the Boy Scouts, has made demeaning personal attacks against colleagues, according to court documents and lawyers in the case.
In one tweet earlier this month, Kosnoff compared a former ally to the dying dog in the movie “Old Yeller” and urged abuse victims to “Vote No on the plan and put this rabid lawyer down,” court documents show.
“I don’t know what we can do to rectify the vote,” U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Laurie Selber Silverstein said during a virtual court hearing Wednesday. “This is a very serious situation.”
A lawyer for Kosnoff didn’t respond to an email seeking comment.
Boy Scouts lawyer Jessica Lauria said Kosnoff had launched a “cyber bullying” campaign in an attempt to convince sex abuse victims to vote against the trust fund. Kosnoff has argued the fund isn’t big enough. Supporters say it’s the biggest trust fund ever proposed in the U.S. to compensate victims of sexual abuse.
The Boy Scouts may ask the judge to rule on whether some votes were improperly influenced by Kosnoff, Lauria said in court papers. In a separate case last month, Silverstein invalidated about 15,000 votes by people who said they got ill from talc in baby powder, threatening plans by Imerys Talc American to set up a victim compensation fund.
The dispute surfaced earlier this month when an official committee of abuse victims forwarded an email from Kosnoff that allegedly contained false and defamatory information. Silverstein ordered the committee to send another email correcting any errors and disavowing the inflammatory rhetoric.
“Our firm is sorry,” committee lawyer Debra Grassgreen said in court Wednesday. “The email had language that was not appropriate and we shouldn’t have” sent it.
During the next several weeks, victims will be asked to read a disclosure statement that describes the trust and how it would pay their claims and then vote on the proposal. Depending on how many people apply to the trust and whether more money comes into the fund, victims could collect as little as 21% of the value of their claims to as much as 100%, according to court documents.
Silverstein will take the votes into account when she holds a hearing in late January to decide whether to approve the trust fund as part of the Boy Scouts bankruptcy exit plan.
Some victim groups involved in the bankruptcy oppose the trust fund and the exit plan, which is built on a series of settlements.
The Boy Scouts organization, based in Irving, Texas, sought bankruptcy protection in February 2020, halting hundreds of lawsuits and creating a compensation fund for people who were molested in their youth decades ago by scoutmasters or other Boy Scout leaders.
Since then more than 80,000 claims have been filed related to alleged abuse.
The case is In re Boy Scouts of America, 20-10343 U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington).
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