The files, which date between 1947 and January 2005, will cause the BSA to face significant legal exposure over sexual abuse claims, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday. Several factors will help determine how much the organization has to pay out to potential plaintiffs, legal experts said.
One of the main factors is strict statutes of limitations in many states.
Multimillion-dollar verdicts are possible in states such as Oregon and Washington, which have loose time limits, but in states such as Alabama and New York, settlements may be more difficult.
"Geography determines justice. That's the problem," said Paul Mones, an attorney based in Oregon who represented Kerry Lewis, the plaintiff in a lawsuit against the BSA over the Scouts' alleged failure to protect him and other boys from known molesters.
Lewis won a jury verdict of nearly $20 million against the Scouts in 2010, the largest such award in the organization's history.
Defense attorneys argue that statutes of limitation exist to protect suspects' rights.
"No one wants it to be more difficult for children to seek justice," said Darren McKinney, a spokesman for the American Tort Reform Association, a coalition of corporations and professional groups that support limiting civil liability. "I think we want justice available to all, not just the accuser."