scouts-l Mail Archive for November of 1999: Re: Who "owns" a Troop?
Ted Burton (scouter@CONSULTBURTON.COM
Tue Nov 02 1999 - 08:28:37 CST
At 23:08 -0800 on 11/1/99, Rick Cordray spake about Re: Who "owns" a
>My understanding is that a Troop or Pack is not a legal entity. It
>is not incorporated and has no legal existance of its own.
That's where I believe the 'conventional wisdom' goes astray. Whether
a group is a legal entity, or has a legal existence of its own, is a
question of State law, not a question of private rules and
>It only exists because the chartering organization has signed a
>charter with BSA and therefore has
>the right and responsibility to recruit leaders and set up a unit to
>carry out its youth program goals by using the BSA programs.
That's a nuance away from correct as a matter of State law. I think
that whether or not the Troop is a legal entity separate and apart
from its charter organization would depend upon the facts of the
particular situation. The right of the group to call itself a Boy
Scout Troop is another matter. If it wishes to call itself a Troop
then the Charter comes in and the National package with it. However,
those things cannot override or repeal the State law.
>In my view, your example probably couldn't happen, or at least
>wouldn't stand up in court, because a troop committee could not
>legally be on the title of the vehicle.
Again a nuance away. The Troop Committee is not supposed to own a
vehicle according to the conventional wisdom of what the Troop is.
However, it is a far different matter to say that the Troop Committee
cannot 'legally' own a vehicle; 'legally' is a matter of State law,
not a matter of private rules and regulations. The most that BSA can
say is that the Committee 'ought not' own the vehicle, or possibly
(if it's really in the regs) the Committee cannot call itself
Scouting if it owns the vehicle. The Motor Vehicle registry is going
to accept a title application and is going to be ignorant of the BSA
wisdom and lo and behold, your Troop Committee is going to own a
vehicle. In a motor vehicle title state, the paper title establishes
its own truth.
In an appropriately framed lawsuit a judge might say to the Troop
Committee, IF the BSA rules on the point could be found and presented
to the Court and in fact say what the conventional wisdom says they
say, say again, IF the BSA rules on the point could be found and
presented to the Court and in fact say what the conventional wisdom
says they say:
well, Messrs. Committeemen, if you wish to have your
operation called a Boy Scout Troop you will sign that title over to
the Charter org. The implication is that the Committee could say, OK,
we'll call ourselves Green Bar Scouts, and go on their merry way
still owning the vehicle.
Please do not misunderstand me: I am only saying that in many
situations a troop is in fact and state law a legal entity and if
push comes to shove it would not be wise to blandly say the troop is
not a legal entity.
It is also true that there are many reasons why it makes good sense
for the Charter Org. to own valuable items. Charter orgs. are
traditionally more stable than the individual units, and
traditionally better organized and managed, and better insured. There
are lots of reasons why national management would have a policy that
valuable times belong to the charter org. They might well push the
idea on locals. They might chose to phrase it as a legal requirement,
although phrasing it that way does not make it so. All that being
true does not mean that the troop cannot be a legal entity. But as
noted by others, the Charter Org owning things gives the Council a
still-going-to-exist set of people to go collect the Scouting assets
Asst Scoutmaster, District Committee, District Commissioner,
Lewis-Clark Trail District, Inland Northwest Council 611, & 'a good
ol' Fox too'; Es Kaielgu Lodge 311, Tseminicum Chapter, Vigil,
mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org ; and Macintosh fan. Take a look at