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SCOUTER30

DESPERATE...Need input and support on serious retaliation by Council

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Yah, OK, this was just too bizarre a complaint, so I figured I'd take a look at it, eh? My professional life allows me access to federal filings easily (though of course they're all public record), so I pulled the amended complaint and response.

 

Da complaint is a bit of a mess, and reads like a typical nuisance suit. Here's the highlights:

 

* Plaintiff Rasmussen has Reynaud's disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, and uses a custom electric wheelchair and a walker for short-distance transfers.

BSA Response: All we knew was that she used a wheelchair and was allergic to shellfish.

 

* Plaintiff Rasmussen alleges she was "employed" as "Cub Scout Roundtable Commissioner." (No kidding! :p) She seems to claim it's employment because she was given a roundtable schedule and a job description. She claims being "terminated with discriminatory intent" by being asked to step down as Roundtable Commissioner.

BSA Response: She has only served in volunteer roles, and was asked to step down because she wasn't following the Roundable Commissioner guidelines.

 

* There's a long, meandering complaint about her treatment at the OA Ordeal weekend similar to what was described before.

BSA Response: She told us she used a wheel chair; we told her we could provide a golf cart and driver, which we did, and that we would not serve shellfish. She did not make any other requests for accommodation in advance.

 

* She claims economic losses from da BSA's discrimination because of a decline in orders for her screen print business "which she developed through contacts in Scouting."

BSA Response: Her business was using pirated BSA trademarked materials, and was denied a license because it had poor credit history and no references

 

* She claims that camp buildings are public accommodations and subject to ADA because there have been major renovations since 1992, and they do not meet the accessibility requirements of the law. BSA Response: The camp is not a place of public accommodation under ADA, and the BSA as a NFP private membership club is exempt from ADA.

 

*** Theres an additional complaint about the Fall Council Camporee being held in an inaccessible area (she was informed in advance that it was inaccessible), and requests injunctive relief orderin' the BSA to make the woods accessible under ADA. (Nah, I'm not makin' this up!)

BSA Response: The camporee was held at a public campground, not a BSA facility (No, I'm not makin' that up either!)

 

* She's seeking injunctive relief (changes to building facilities and the woods to make them accessible), and "compensatory damages, damages for mental anguish, loss and dignity (sic) and other intangible injuries."

 

The BSA's Counterclaim:

 

* Defendant and her husband were simultaneously Troop CC & SM, Crew CC & SM, and Pack Trainer, Cubmaster & MC.

 

* The units had a different bank than the Rasmussens, but the Rasmussens repeatedly deposited checks for the unit in their personal accounts. There aren't any unit financial records since August 2005.

 

* P&K Graphics, the Rasmussen's screen print business charged high fees (up to $25 per shirt), claiming they had to pay license fees to the BSA, but were never licensed nor paid any fees.

 

* BSA requests a court-ordered accounting, and then appropriate relief based on what that turns up.

 

------

 

Yah, hmmm....

 

So clearly, this all turns around her bad experience at Ordeal, eh? Plus a lot of personal animosity toward some fellow folks in her council. But a bad experience does not a civil case make.

 

I don't foresee da plaintiff prevailing, eh? :)

 

Beavah

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Stranger things have happened, Beav.

 

I hope the BSA countersues for trademark infringement. I have been regularly challenging sellers on eBay when I see obvious infringement. I send the seller an e-mail asking if they are licensed by BSA to be selling trademarked items. Only one said yes, and I notice the same items (challenge coins) are now on the Scoutstuff website, so I guess he's legit.

 

 

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Gee, my son got bronchitis after sleeping in the rain with shotgun shells digging into his back at his Ordeal.

 

It's been a few years, maybe I can still sue! I need "compensatory damages for mental anguish" after listening to him cough and hack and complain for a week!

 

At least she was inside, warm and dry. What kind of service did she preform? Other than suing BSA that is. And it sure sounds like she was anything but "Cheerful" about it.

 

You know, I am really curious as to why her nomination to OA was even approved. Adult membership is not an award. It is based on what you can do for the OA. It really sounds like she was approved only to be PC and it blew up in their faces, in part because she has no concept of what OA, much less the Ordeal, is all about.

 

 

 

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This thread got me thinking about a situation that happened in my council a few years ago.

 

My son spent his entire summer as a staffer at a council Cub Scout camp, except for 1 week when he attended JLTC (before it was morphed into NYLTC). At JLTC, he discovered a blind spot in one eye while demonstrating to a fellow scout how he helped the cubs determine eye dominance at the BB range. The next morning he reported it to the camp nurse, who said not to worry about it and tell his parents (me) at the end of the week. He did. We got him prompt care (a PA friend that Saturday, then an opthamologist on Monday, followed by a retina specialist the same day, followed by our family doctor. Conference calls all the way around.

 

Long story short: he has lost all of his central vision in the one eye in spite of very aggressive treatment including IV antibiotics over a 2-month period. The loss is permanent.

 

We considered filing a suit against the council and possibly the camp nurse (who is still used by the council). We didn't, because we were afraid of retaliation against both my sons and me. The ripple effect through our troop would have been harmful.

 

The medical bills were covered by our health insurance. Son is working on Eagle. A lawsuit would not have brought back his eyesight. But it might have removed this nurse from council duty. I still wonder how many other ills she dismisses instead of making proper referrals.

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oldSM;

 

Just curious; did you consider the suit because she did not send him home, or call you? Would the few extra days have made any difference in the diagnosis or treatment? Did you discuss your concerns with the council or camp, e.g. quick action often is indicated for some issues, and certainly a report to parents at camp close as well, should there be something unusual medically related. This might have made them review their methodology.

 

If, when you took him to the specialist, it had turned out to be something minor, would you have still considered suing? Guess I really cannot see they were negligent, in that she told him to tell you so you could confer with your own doctor. But, did you perhaps miss an opportunity to improve their approach to unusual medical challenges in the camp setting?

 

Great that he is close to completing his Eagle.

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Beavah,

 

Thanks for the case lookup. It offered a great deal more detail. The Plantiff looks to have a snowballs chance but stranger things have happened.

 

Did the BSA ask for summary judgement and dismissal?

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Nah, they're not that far along yet, mmhardy. Rasmussens are just respondin' to da BSA counterclaim. But I expect that will come in due course, eh ;).

 

B

 

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"So clearly, this all turns around her bad experience at Ordeal, eh? Plus a lot of personal animosity toward some fellow folks in her council. But a bad experience does not a civil case make."

 

I'm wondering if the BSA may not have been aware of all their shenanigains (check nonsense and screen printing business, unit irregularities, etc), and that only when they sued did the council start to really take a look at things and it snowballed.

 

 

 

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"So clearly, this all turns around her bad experience at Ordeal, eh? Plus a lot of personal animosity toward some fellow folks in her council. But a bad experience does not a civil case make."

 

I'm wondering if the BSA may not have been aware of all their shenanigains (check nonsense and screen printing business, unit irregularities, etc), and that only when they sued did the council start to really take a look at things and it snowballed.

 

 

We had a similiar (but much minor) thing happen in my council. A couple with various heath issues attended Wood Badge. Had to be taken around in a golf cart, etc. They made a major nuisense of themselves to the point they were asked not to come back for the second weekend. it was somehow also discovered that their "Boy Scout troop" really just consisted of themselves and their son. (I believe one of the DEs that were on the course, as a participant, basically told them to 'do their son a favor, and put him in a real troop').

 

 

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Skeptic,

 

The delay in seeing an MD most definitely exacerbated the problem, according to all of the MD's involved. You see, this was no simple infection or irritation: it was a blind spot being caused by a little single-celled parasite that happened to attack his macula. The week's delay in treatment meant that a far greater portion of his vision was lost.

 

I am not a sue-happy person. I just don't believe that lawsuits are the moral answer to what I consider to be normal life risks. However, an RN should have been alert enough to spot something out of the ordinary. Just look at how quickly we get a camper to the ER over an upset stomach or a little bump or a little cut that probably only needs a Band-Aid.

 

Did I miss an opportunity to potential improve medical care at the camp? Yes, and I regret it now. But it's probably too late to do anything at this point.

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oldsm,

 

I am very sorry for your son's loss of vision. I am also happy that you are not "sue-happy." My family also doesn't believe in suing just because we feel we deserve it. My grandfather died because of a staph infection he got while IN the hospital. I know this happens often. A family friend who is a doctor, privately told my Mom and her brother that they not only had grounds to sue, but would probably win. I am proud to say that my mom and uncle did not sue the hospital. They knew that a lawsuit over this tragic mistake was not going to bring back their father.

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Sorry to bring up an old subject, but another organization I volunteer with recently had similar lawsuit brought against us by a disgruntled volunteer. I was talking to one of our board members about this event that I had read about a few years back when my son joined Scouting and started me wondering what the outcome became. Anyone know?

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Good question, Foxy Den Mom.

 

While I'm not an attorney, it appears the BSA was granted a request for summary judgment in 2008. The only point that remained before the court was on the issue of ADA access to the Trading Post: http://classweb.gmu.edu/jkozlows/RPLR/080306b.pdf

 

The Troop's Web site has apparently lapsed over the last two years, and the crew's now belongs to a group in Georgia.

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Foxy Den Mom -

 

Internet research provides the following information on this suit -

 

Rasmussen v. Central Florida Council Boy Scouts of America (M.D.Fla. 3/6/2008)

 

United States District Court Middle District of Florida

 

CONCLUSION

 

Based on the foregoing, the Motion of the Central Council, Boy Scouts of America, Inc. for Summary Judgment is GRANTED except the Counts concerning the accessibility of the Trading Post. These Counts concerning the accessibility of the Trading Post remain pending before the Court.

 

Full details: http://classweb.gmu.edu/jkozlows/RPLR/080306b.pdf

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The document at the above link is an excellent and clear presentation of many of the issues in applying the ADA to Scouting programs and facilities. It may not be the actual Court ruling.

 

As an eternal skeptic, I cannot resist pointing out that the linked document has the language and appearance of a Court ruling. It is not a link to the court web site, and it is not signed by the Court. It could therefore be a proposed ruling written by one of the lawyers, but not necessarily approved by the Court. Courts love it when a lawyer does the writing for them, so lawyers do it to get their way, and to get paid for the time. I note that this document is copyrighted, which would be odd for a public Court. So handle with care.

 

Who would not wish Scouting to be available to as many disabled people as possible? I note that this document rests on the letter of the law, as it must. But I am pleased to see the appearance of people in Scouting doing their best to welcome disabled people into Scouting activites as much as possible.

 

Rick Rayfield

former SM

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