Litigation and the BSA

Every summer I volunteer to help run a leadership training course for youth in the Boy Scouts of America. I’ve been doing it for six years now and can see myself doing it for six more, depending on certain outside variables. The experience of teaching these boys to be young men and future leaders is an amazing fulfilling experience. For the whole week I look at them and observe the changes occurring within them that happened to me when I went through. I see them mature right before my eyes. It’s an extremely rewarding experience.
It’s not without its troubles, however. One year we had a patrol spraying their campfire with aerosol cans and giggling over the resulting fireball. We’ve had violent kids, immature kids, homesick kids, the lot. Sometimes we’ve had to send them home. Most of the time, however, we’ve worked through the problem and the participant has been able to complete the course.
The worst problems have always involved the parents, though. We’ve had parents and/or scoutmasters showing up in the middle of the course to ‘check up’ on their kid. I do not need to say what effect this could have on a homesick child. Not only that, but seeing a familiar authority figure like that could really break up the momentum of the course. The worst thing the course has experienced so far occurred this summer…after the course had finished.
At the end of the week this year, a scout came up the Senior Patrol Leader (Youth Staffer Senior) and told him that a scout from another patrol has exposed himself to him. I’ll spare the details of the subsequent interrogation but the SPL, Assistant SPL, Troop Guide and adult medical officer (who was a certified counselor) concluded that the incident was accidental; the second scout had simply been going to the bathroom in a not-so-concealed area and the first scout had mistakenly walked up on him. We talked with both parties and figured the problem was resolved.
A month later, we’re contacted by the first child’s family. He had told them about the incident and rather than handle it like adults, they filed charges with the Michigan State Police against the other family and the Boy Scout Council out of which the training course operates.
Last week, I received an update from another staffer telling me that the family has hired an attorney from Jeffery Figger’s office to represent them. IIRC, the exact quote from the father was, “It’ll put us in the poor house, but at least my wife can sleep at night.”

Sorry to hear that mambozzy. I have a feeling this will be heading to the pit though, unless there’s a debate in there somewhere.

Yeah, I don’t really see the question. I don’t know what they would sue for. “indecent exposure?” I imagine you see more than that in the locker room showers…

I suppose I put it in great debates based on the opinion of litigation in society in general. I have heard countless arguments against frivolous lawsuits yet they persist. After all the stories I’ve heard worthy of the Stella Award , there has to be somebody somewhere to defend the litigious end of society. I dare you: Come forth and defend yourself.


…or maybe you should just move it to the pit.

Of course, those who have great stakes in maintaining the status quo don’t esteem the litigious society. But consider this:

In a more litigious society, Amerikan women might have attained the right to vote much earlier, instead of having to wait some 55 years after the Black male gained that right.

It’s the availability of litigation that keeps a lot of us from just shooting the bastards, like the abusive cops and judges!

jimbino, are you saying that if it weren’t for ease of taking legal action in this society, the parents of kid one would be expected to murder kid two? It seems to me that if the rabble who populate the majority of the frivolous court cases in the system were told to simply fuck off, they would gasp, get a stupid look on their face, grumble, and then get on with their friggin lives!

as a former camp councelor, I often had to deal with parents who took things wy out of proportion after Jr. returned home form camp. I ran a special program for Eagle scout Badges not generally done at camp. when Jr. returned home from his week at camp and did not have a single badge to show for it, Mom came to the camp, spoke to the Director, who called me in to his office with Mom there, and asked me about Jr’s actions. I laid it out, he was lazy, did none of the items I laid out for him to do, and informed Mom that I was not his babysitter, and the director backed me up. Mom left upset, and hopefully put Jr. in his place.
as to your events, Mambozzy, even though it will waste a bit of court time, and make a bunch of Lawyers rich, I doubt it will come to anything. you and the camp seemed to handle it correctly, it is just that Mom is overreacting and being a twit. it seems that here in america, parenting runs either hot or cold. they either overprotect their progeny, or let it run rampant and ignore it. (I know that there are Doper parents out there who are good parents and are not on the extreme ends) just my two cents. YMMV. but do keep us informed, if you can, on what happens.


What exactly does the kid say happened that day? Is there the slightest possibility that abuse of some sort happened?

The myth that frivolous lawsuits are destroying the country is a deep one- one promlogated by people who have disagreed with decisions of the court since… oh, Lochner. What amazes me is the universally poor arguments in defense of the “too many lawsuits!” argument. Please see the below links for some facts on lawsuits, and remember them next time someone whines about “tort reform” or “medical recovery reform” or some other complete nonsense.

What IS true is that the United States has alot of lawyers, probably more than it needs, and many lawsuits. But the dearth of lawyers is probably more due to the market forces that have created massive, lavishly-paid corporate law firms, and the resulting incentive for people to attend schools so they get a crack at the pot. And the fact that we have more litigation in America than they have in, say, Britian, is because we allow lawyers to work for contigency.

There’s an interesting derivative of the “too much litigation!” battlecry that, I wager, most people havn’t thought through. If you believe there are too many lawsuits out there, you need to restrict ANY meaningful access to the court in some way to get around them. This is because cases currently are subject to multiple levels of scrutiny and can be thrown out at any point for all manner of reason; to prevent this, you need to stop people from getting to the court house in the first place. Any other plan would just move the “problem” further down the line. For example, does anyone think adding a second and prior 12(b)(6) motion would help anything?

But do you really want that? Do you folks whining about lawsuits want people to be unable to get into the courtroom to have anyone hear the merits of their claim for the sake of illusory impressions of over-litigation?



I think you have it right. To keep from having to off (btw, in the USSA it is now called anti-terrorism, not murder) a kid or his parents, you are encouraged to file a lawsuit. Do you have a problem with that? You do not need a lawyer in this country to pursue any legal claim, so why the hell blame the lawyers?

Yes, I’m one of those who “whines” about frivolous lawsuits, but I don’t necessarily think they should be restricted by the legal system. I just think people should learn to accept that some things are accidents, that some things are their own fault, and that you don’t have to blame someone for every little thing that happens. Plus the fact that sometimes things do happen that shouldn’t, but there are other ways to deal with them.

And, yes, I know that’s not going to happen, people being the way they are.

So for me it’s not really a matter of trying to change the legal system, it’s more a matter of frustration.

I suppose my attitude is similar to yours, thirdwarning. To quote a comic book, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Freedom is a power which rivals super strength, the ability to hang from ceilings and x-ray vision every day of the week. Unfortunately, many do not treat freedom with the dignity and responsibility that they should. At the slightest inconvenience, they’re off to their lawyers office to file charges.

I’m not looking for legal restriction of any type, Maximum C. I am merely asking as to why it is so difficult to talk to the offender on their own face-to-face? Failing that, why is it so difficult to talk to a friend about your indignation? Failing that, why is it so difficult to realize that the offender is probably just an idiot and it would probably be beneficial to simply ignore them? Why must it come to the court system?

Sure, anyone can represent themselves in court, jimbino, but how many actually do? The fact is, many people come to lawyers for advice to see if they have a case. Rather than follow their professional code and turn away clients with ridiculous claims and who demand outrageous reparations, they accept them because they know they can put a spin on it to gain publicity and notoriety to further their own careers.

This is a select few, I know. I’m sure 99% of those involved with the court system are performing nobly and justly. Most of them don’t get the attention of the media, however.

Goodness me!

I guess seeing another kid take a leak is far worse than a fellow scout telling my 14 year old that he was going to fuck him in the ass while he was sleeping during a camping trip.

I figured that was just what they meant by “high adventure!”

Funny, but we just wanted to deal with it and get it done with. As far as we were concerned, it was over following our discussion with 2 leaders a couple of months ago. So we were surprised when the tropp leader called us up to discuss it earlier this week. In our instance, it is the troop that won’t let this damned incident die. I’m not sure if they are trying to cover their asses or what, but they certainly are not acceding to our wishes.

Czarcasm, I’ve been in correspondence with another adult staffer who was more directly involved. I’ll summarize:

The course is a week long (Sunday to Saturday). On Thursday afternoon, the patrols are sent on an overnighter. They hike out between 1.5 and 4 miles to a campsite and spend the night there on their own, more or less. The campsites are pretty considerably spaced, 500 yards at least, and none are within sight of each other.

During lunch on Friday, Scout one (we’ll call him Joe), said in passing that scout two (Fred), from another patrol, had walked into his tent on the overnighter, naked, and yelled at him. Immediately, the troop guides (staff role models of a sort) interviewed every member of each patrol separately. Nobody in either patrol could either confirm or deny the claim despite extensive interviews by Troop Guides, ASPL, SPL, ASM, SM, and two or three other adult staff.

Our medical officer, again a certified counselor, spoke with Fred one-on-one about it. Fred completely denied the entire incident and was very upset about being accused of such a thing.

Interviews with the patrol revealed that Fred was somewhat nonchalant about relieving himself in view of others, but that was about it.

Joe’s patrol was somewhat hard on him during the week (the TG felt he was somewhat lazy) but he was still accepted as part of the group.

Fred got along marvelously with his patrol.

When Joe got home he told his father his story and said that he didn’t feel safe because some of the older boys in his patrol would beat him up. His dad called the cops.

[nitpick]BTW, last time I checked, ‘dearth’ meant ‘shortage’. There’s a long story as to why I’m intimately aware of this fact but we won’t go into that here.[/nitpick]

The course was already in limbo, what with all the legal issues surrounding it. The council had a hold put onto it until the court made a decision but it seems a few member of the staff have already made theirs.

So far, the Scoutmaster, Health and Safety Officer, SPL and a handfull of other veteran staffers have decided to call it quits. They will not be returning. And without them, I’m afraid, neither will I.

mambozzy please hang in there. The BSA needs every good person it has.

My son just joined cub scouts a few months ago and I volunteered to be the Den Leader. BSA has some strict rules related to this, and makes it a point that all leaders have to be trained about them.
Stuff like:

  • Two adults must be at all events
  • No drinking
  • boys can’t alone or sleep in the same tent with an adult (unless it’s the adult’s child)

When you’re indoctrinated with that sort of stuff, you know why and it makes good legal sense, but you just feel sad that things are as they are.

And the biggest bummer is that 99% of the people involved are volunteers. In fact, 99% of the people involved are parents who’ve paid for the priviledge of being there. You’re trying to do good and maybe make the world a little better in some small way, and you have to deal with this crap.

The first seems to be the bare minimum for keeping a bunch of nutty scouts in order.

The second is common sense

The third is probably for the benefit of the adults and not the scounts. :wink: