Judge tosses Girl Scouts’ recruitment suit vs. Boy Scouts

By Larry Neumeister

NEW YORK (AP) – A federal judge on Thursday tossed out a lawsuit in which the Girl Scouts claim that the Boy Scouts are creating marketplace confusion and damaging their recruitment efforts through their use of words such as “scouts” and “scouting.”

Manhattan Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein ruled that the Boy Scouts of America can describe their activities as “scouting” without referring to gender and that the matter does not need to be put to a jury.

Hellerstein said his written decision caps a “serious, contentious and expensive” litigation and necessitates dismissal of the lawsuit brought by the Girls Scouts of the United States of America.

The lawsuit was filed in late 2018, a year after the Boy Scouts announced that boy scouting and cub scouting would be open to girls, leading the two organizations to compete for members after social trends and a rise in sports league participation drove down membership for decades. The pattern was worsened when the pandemic hit.

Hellerstein’s decision comes while the Boy Scouts are in bankruptcy proceedings in Delaware that began in February 2020. The Irving, Texas-based organization sought bankruptcy protection after it was named in hundreds of lawsuits brought by individuals claiming they were molested by scout leaders as minors.

Messages seeking comment left with lawyers in the case were not immediately returned.

In his decision, Hellerstein wrote that he was siding with the Boy Scouts because the Girls Scouts cannot prove that a likelihood of confusion was caused by the Boy Scouts’ use of the “scout” terms.