Connecticut top court overturns $12 million verdict against U.S. Boy Scouts

October 3, 2016 3:11 PM EDT

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(Reuters) - Connecticut's Supreme Court on Monday overturned a lower court's 2014 decision to award $12 million to a former Boy Scout who alleged he was sexually assaulted by an older scout in the 1970s and ordered a new trial.

The court agreed with the Boy Scouts of America's contention that the jury should have been informed that it could be held liable only if the defendant, who was not named in the 2012 lawsuit, could prove that the organization's conduct had increased the odds that abuse would take place.

The plaintiff, who was 11 at the time of the alleged abuse, said in his 2012 lawsuit that he was sexually assaulted multiple times by his patrol leader, a scout who had been raised into a position of authority.

He contended that the Boy Scouts of America had increased the risk of this happening by encouraging scouts to go on camping trips and other activities that involved little or no adult supervision.

"The trial court improperly denied the defendant's request to instruct the jury that the defendant could not be held liable for negligence unless the plaintiff proved that the defendant's conduct created or increased the risk that the plaintiff would be harmed," Chief Justice Chase Rogers wrote in the majority opinion overturning the $12 million verdict.

Representatives of the Boy Scouts of America and attorneys for the alleged victim, identified only as John Doe in court papers, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

(Reporting by Scott Malone in Boston; Editing by Bill Rigby)



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