Saturday, February 28, 2015

Breaking: City denied new trial in Boy Scouts HQ case, must pay legal fees

A federal judge ruled today that the city must pay the Boy Scouts $877,122.07 in legal fees and denied the city's request for a new trial in the ongoing saga.

Breaking: City denied new trial in Boy Scouts HQ case, must pay legal fees

Note: This post has been updated to include comments from the Mayor and the Boy Scouts' attorney.

A federal judge ruled today that the city must pay the Boy Scouts $877,122.07 in legal fees and denied the city's request for a new trial in the ongoing saga over the city's efforts to evict the Scouts from their headquarters due to anti-gay policies.

The city now must pay up because Judge Ronald Buckwalter denied their request for a new trial. Mayor Nutter yesterday said the city was reviewing the opinion, calling the legal bill a "significant expense."

The Scouts and the city have spent years unsuccessfully trying to resolve this conflict, rooted in the local Boy Scouts' refusal to denounce their national organization's anti-gay stance. The headquarters at 22nd and Winter Streets was built by the Scouts on city-owned land.

After the Scouts successfully went to court and blocked a city effort to evict them -- based on the city's anti-discrimination policies -- the two sides reached a deal where the Scouts would buy the building for $500,000 and absolve the city from paying their legal fees. But legislation to authorize the deal languished in City Council and the Scouts scrapped the deal earlier this year.

Bill McSwain, the attorney representing the Scouts, said they wanted to complete that deal.

"We would have been happy with it, but it hit an impasse because City Council refused to vote for it," McSwain said.

Now, the city is instead on the line for a big payout to the Boy Scouts. And the Scouts remain in their long-time home, which is rent-free.

Nutter stressed that the city still does not condone the Scouts' national policy barring homosexuals.

"We do not as a city support that kind of behavior," he said. "We've tried to take a number of steps to get the Boy Scouts out of a city related building."

McSwain said the local chapter of the Boy Scouts has never discriminated.

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William Bender, a Drexel graduate who landed at the Daily News in 2007, has covered everything from South Philly mobsters to doomsday hucksters. He occasionally writes about local food trucks and always eats everything on his plate, whether it be a bloody rib eye or a corrupt politician. E-mail tips to benderw@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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David Gambacorta, has been a reporter with the Daily News since 2005, covering crime, police corruption and all of the other bizarre things that happen in Philadelphia. Now he’s covering the 2015 mayor’s race, because he enjoys a good circus just as much as the next guy. He’s always looking to get a cup of coffee. Send news tips and other musings on life to gambacd@phillynews.com
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