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Unit Recharter Struggles


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My unit has entered and uploaded its rechartering individuals' info, but no rechartering agreement of any sort has been signed by our Catholic Parish Priest.  The Diocese wants to use its facility use agreement and our Council wants to use BSA's facility use agreement.  And there is a standoff.

And so, relevant parts of an email to me by my unit's COR:

I'm following up with our DE to let him know the feedback I got from Father and the diocese and suggesting that this is a bigger issue that needs to be dealt with at least at the Council and Diocese level if not higher rather than through me and the other CORs for each unit chartered to a Catholic parish.
 
In the meantime I wanted to confirm my understanding of your recommendation to proceed with activities as normal.  As we discussed, Father has given us approval to continue meeting on campus and we have been, which I believe aligns with what we discussed...

The Pack is planning to hold Pinewood Derby this weekend on campus which I believe falls under the meeting category.  One new question that came up tonight was Troop campouts.  They have a campout planned a week from this coming Friday and they are looking for feedback that they can move forward with it.  Based on all the reading and research you've done, do you see any issues or concerns with a campout in terms of liability coverage if something were to happen?

 

And so, posters, the questions are:

"Should a unit which has no rechartering agreement in place, uploaded its rechartering individuals' info, but not paid a rechartering fee, nor received written confirmation from the DE continue to conduct scouting activities, such as troop meetings, and monthly campouts? And if so, what are the uninsured liabilities?"

 

My reply email is:

 

All—

I am no insurance expert, and I am not sure I have any sound recommendations, but from my understanding:

From the viewpoint of personal injury to a scout, presumably parents have health insurance (some may not), the Parish ought to have premises liability insurance which should also cover medical expenses and pain & suffering for injury. The “touted” BSA insurance is secondary to all other insurance, and I don’t think its coverage is very high in any event.

There is a fair chance BSA may deny it has liability on its secondary coverage given the uncertain status of our unit as “registered” or “not registered.”  I am not aware of any agreement by our Units (Troop and Pack) that we are providing primary or secondary liability/medical insurance for injury to scouts, so I think, at best, the Units may be tacitly representing that there is secondary insurance due to registration with Scouting.  So, we (individual unit leaders, Troop, and Chartering Organization) may potentially lose BSA’s secondary liability insurance for injuries and be potentially liable for the benefits that secondary insurance would provide.  

We could ask parents to sign a Waiver regarding any injuries, and abuse and molestation, acknowledge that there may not be any coverage by BSA insurance.  The Release would run in favor of the troop, unit leaders and the chartering organization.  There is case law in our state that such waivers are nearly worthless as a defense, but if we have a waiver in hand at least we have a potential defense.

So, to get the best protection available, short of shutting down all activities, is to obtain a Release from parents of each scout which runs in favor of all unit leaders, the troop (thought it is not a legal entity), and the chartering organization.

As far as individual leader insurance liability for the adult’s involvement in an accident is concerned, I think that the only coverage available for that would be whatever insurance the adult leader has through homeowner’s coverage (maybe) or auto coverage.  Homeowner’s coverage may provide zero coverage (Adult authorizes scouts to sled on a hill and a scout is injured.) BUT, chartered or not, there is no change in the insurance coverage for an adult leader-these risks run as a non-registered troop are the same as a registered troop.  Maybe we’ve all been running uninsured risks for decades.

The BIG issue is whether there is any coverage for the Unit adult leaders, the Unit, and Chartering Organization for liability for what is called “abuse and molestation” (in the insurance industry).

Perpetrators who commit abuse and molestation are never insured.  Their actions are intentional and likely criminal acts and are uninsurable.

From National’s bankruptcy proceeding, it seems as if there was abuse and molestation coverage from 1976 onward.  But just who is insured is not clear to me.  Maybe chartering organizations, local councils, but individual adult leaders who are not the perpetrators?  I do not know.

More importantly, I do not know whether any such National insurance is currently in effect (during the pendency of National’s bankruptcy) nor who it insures.

So, for the greatest protection, we stop all Unit activities until all of the insurance coverage is resolved.  That could be yet this year. Truly.

Or, prepare a broad-based Release releasing unit leaders, the unit, and the chartering organization for all liability, injury, and abuse and molestation. Probably best to get a release for each outing.

Best I can do.

But there are always the Oracles at Delphi, too.

Adult Troop Leader

 

Posters-thanks in advance.

 

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You make several interesting points: Traditionally, we know from observation that the majority of chartered organizations have acted more in the role of a benevolent landlord rather than treating

The issue both he and I highlighted was the fact that BSA at all levels "knew or should of known" the imminent threat of CSA throughout the organization. The documented knowledge of that irrefutable e

Makes sense.  Dioceses are independent businesses with their own lawyers AND their own state oversight requirements.  For example, my diocese has legal reporting requirements to the state AG as part o

The very first question I have for you is when does your charter expire?  Our charter runs through the end of this month, so irrespective of whether we use a traditional charter agreement or some new version of something, nothing is different until the current charter actually expires.

Respectfully, when you're talking about insurance for and releases for "abuse and molestation" you're talking about things that you really don't have a handle on, and you shouldn't be guessing or opining about them to and for your unit. 

I couldn't and wouldn't do justice to trying to fully explain what you're missing in your understanding, but at a basic level you are only ever insured against negligence, which can broadly be defined as failure to use reasonable care, resulting in damage or injury to another.  Your negligence could take the form of your not following or enforcing YPT and your failure to do so resulting in abuse, or your negligence could take the form of not being mindful of the conditions on the sled hill resulting in a kid smacking into a tree.

You shouldn't be deciding this, your pastor should be.  He probably has a pretty good understanding of where the parish's liability and insurance lies, and he has easy access to experts and attorneys through the diocese.  Your parish probably has lots of youth programs, all of them carry risks.  There is probably not a lot of legal distinction between your troop heading on a campout and the eight grade boys CYO team heading over to St. Pat's for a basketball tournament.  

Your diocese knows how all this works, your pastor has access to that knowledge.  You don't actually know how it all works, and you shouldn't be guessing.

ETA, you should already be getting a signed permission slip for every outing, that permission slip should include a broad based release however hard they may be to enforce.  If your diocese participates in Virtus it's one of the instructions in that training that you have a signed permission slip for every trip.  You need a lawyer to draft that, you cannot try doing it yourself.

Edited by T2Eagle
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21 minutes ago, T2Eagle said:

The very first question I have for you is when does your charter expire?

December 31. 2021. Our charter is now expired.

22 minutes ago, T2Eagle said:

Respectfully, when you're talking about insurance for and releases for "abuse and molestation" you're talking about things that you really don't have a handle on, and you shouldn't be guessing or opining about them to and for your unit. 

I am currently licensed as an attorney and fully understand Releases, and such.  What I do not have is any information on the coverages of BSA National procured insurance, the type of coverage (risks insured), who is insured, policy limits, and deductibles.  That insurance may not cover abuse and molestation claims.  And if it does, who is insured?  Unit leaders (who are not alleged abusers), Units (not likely legal entities), chartering organizations, and the local councils?

Thank you.

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If your charter is expired and nonexistent you should not be running program. That has been standing BSA policy. The UMC has an agreement with BSA to extend its disputed charters to March. I do not think the Catholic Church has any such agreement. In one sense, negligence can already be assumed if the unit leadership is aware it is not chartered and yet is continuing to run program. It just seems like you are sticking your foot into a bucket of muck if anything happens. I'm not an attorney but this just seems common sense to me as sad as the situation is. 

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1 hour ago, 1980Scouter said:

Are there still a lot of units in limbo on charters?

 I know in my district, about 20% of units haven't even started the rechartering process as of Jan 1.  I would guess more than half haven't completed including payment.

Normal years, DEs spend most of December and January chasing down these charter documents/payments.  May be more of a mess this year with some COs balking.

Edited by Eagle1993
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2 hours ago, 1980Scouter said:

Are there still a lot of units in limbo on charters?

YES.

My unit is in paperwork limbo. Everything has been turned in, and money has been attempted to be paid. but something in the online system is not allowing it to go through. To make matters worse, only the 2021 key 3 have access to the online system, and they are unavailable at this time. Hence why we got new Key 3.

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1 minute ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

My unit is in paperwork limbo. Everything has been turned in, and money has been attempted to be paid. but something in the online system is not allowing it to go through. To make matters worse, only the 2021 key 3 have access to the online system, and they are unavailable at this time. Hence why we got new Key 3.

We are also stuck with the money issue.  One issue is the online system is going to charge adults in multiple units multiple times.  We are just going to pay and then get refunds later.  A bit of a mess.

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1 hour ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

YES.

My unit is in paperwork limbo. Everything has been turned in, and money has been attempted to be paid. but something in the online system is not allowing it to go through. To make matters worse, only the 2021 key 3 have access to the online system, and they are unavailable at this time. Hence why we got new Key 3.

 

58 minutes ago, Eagle1993 said:

We are also stuck with the money issue.  One issue is the online system is going to charge adults in multiple units multiple times.  We are just going to pay and then get refunds later.  A bit of a mess.

Our registrar is struggling with the "new" system.  It was all supposed to be done electronically.  But, in PA, the registrar must verify PA volunteer clearances are up to date for the entire adult roster before approving the recharter.  However, the registrar cannot see the "future" roster until she approves it.   Catch-22, so they had to go back to all the units and ask for a roster for rechartering, outside the electronic system.

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9 hours ago, SiouxRanger said:

December 31. 2021. Our charter is now expired.

I am currently licensed as an attorney and fully understand Releases, and such.  What I do not have is any information on the coverages of BSA National procured insurance, the type of coverage (risks insured), who is insured, policy limits, and deductibles.  That insurance may not cover abuse and molestation claims.  And if it does, who is insured?  Unit leaders (who are not alleged abusers), Units (not likely legal entities), chartering organizations, and the local councils?

Thank you.

Here is my revised response. 

In case you haven't seen it there is a statement about insurance on the BSA website.  Here's the link and a snippet of it.

"Comprehensive General Liability Insurance

This coverage provides primary general liability coverage for registered adults of the Boy Scouts of America who serve in a volunteer or professional capacity concerning claims arising out of an official Scouting activity... (t)his coverage responds to allegations of negligent actions by third parties that result in personal injury or property damage claims that are made and protects Scouting units and chartered organizations on a primary basis..."

https://www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/gss/gss10/

Of course, until you see the policy, you can't really know what it says and who is covered.  I've always carried my own umbrella policy.

BUT, you aren't currently chartered.  I would think your safest assumption is that BSA is not providing coverage.  I say this as a COR for a Catholic parish: kick this back to your pastor to decide.  As I mentioned, the parish, which is really the diocese, has lots of youth programs, they should be able to figure out how to let you operate safely.

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1 hour ago, Eagle1993 said:

We are also stuck with the money issue.  One issue is the online system is going to charge adults in multiple units multiple times.  We are just going to pay and then get refunds later.  A bit of a mess.

I was able to get the multiple function to work for the Pack's recharter so that people who's primary role was with the troop weren't charged to the pack.  And I was able to get the multiple function to work for the troop to get some council primary folks for $0, but I couldn't get the people who are primary to the Pack off the troop's books.  But we pay by check not electronically, so my solution was to only pay what we owed rather than over pay and wait for a refund.

Bemoaning this with a fellow scouter I said it was the inevitability of a major bug that was so striking.  But BSA never just goes back and fixes all the bugs from a previous try, they always try to roll out a new system to use --- even tough they've demonstrated that they're just not good at it.

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1 hour ago, T2Eagle said:

Here is my revised response. 

In case you haven't seen it there is a statement about insurance on the BSA website.  Here's the link and a snippet of it.

"Comprehensive General Liability Insurance

This coverage provides primary general liability coverage for registered adults of the Boy Scouts of America who serve in a volunteer or professional capacity concerning claims arising out of an official Scouting activity... (t)his coverage responds to allegations of negligent actions by third parties that result in personal injury or property damage claims that are made and protects Scouting units and chartered organizations on a primary basis..."

https://www.scouting.org/health-and-safety/gss/gss10/

Of course, until you see the policy, you can't really know what it says and who is covered.  I've always carried my own umbrella policy.

BUT, you aren't currently chartered.  I would think your safest assumption is that BSA is not providing coverage.  I say this as a COR for a Catholic parish: kick this back to your pastor to decide.  As I mentioned, the parish, which is really the diocese, has lots of youth programs, they should be able to figure out how to let you operate safely.

I would also think that without an active charter, one cannot even call it cub scouts or BSA or anything of the sort. Like calling your burger joint McDonalds without being an actual franchise.

What is currently being done is solely a church youth group, and is 0% affiliated with Scouting(tm).

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14 minutes ago, DuctTape said:

I would also think that without an active charter, one cannot even call it cub scouts or BSA or anything of the sort. Like calling your burger joint McDonalds without being an actual franchise.

What is currently being done is solely a church youth group, and is 0% affiliated with Scouting(tm).

We were told there is some buffer.  It sounds like it may not be a hard stop January 1.  BSA understands a large number of charters are not renewed in time.  I'm trying to get a bit more info.

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I am not a lawyer.  However, I think it boils down to the fact that you do not have a current charter.  You are NOT authorized to use BSA's name.  Most if not all BSA materials are trademarked and copyrighted.  And any advancement that occurs after 12/31/2021 will not be recognized and recorded by BSA.  You are NOT covered by BSA insurance and, as you pointed out, a "broad release" form would be worthless.  I would cancel everything until a new CO is found, or transfer to a unit in good standing.

 

'

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25 minutes ago, Eagle1993 said:

We were told there is some buffer.  It sounds like it may not be a hard stop January 1.  BSA understands a large number of charters are not renewed in time.  I'm trying to get a bit more info.

There is a buffer, at least from what our council has told us, both to allow for units who do not get their re-charter posted in a timely manner (my district is the only one in our council to have 100% of our units submitted), and also to allow council registrars to get them all approved and submitted to national.  

I did not see anywhere that stated whether or not you submitted payment for the members of your unit and have just not paid the $75 re-charter fee.  We are a UMC unit, and that is what we were instructed to do.  I have seen posts in other online forums stating that some councils have given that guidance to units with whose CO they are still negotiating.  In any case, as several others have stated, your situation does not mean you ceased to be a unit on January 1.

Edited by MikeS72
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