Revival Statutes Significantly Extend Statute of Limitations Period for Lawsuits Alleging Childhood Sexual Abuse
Several states across the country have passed laws that breathe new life into cases barred for years by the statutes of limitations. Because of the laws, anyone who was abused in those states – California, New York, North Carolina, Washington DC, New Jersey – as a minor can file a claim regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred. The sole purpose of these new laws is to make it easier for the survivors of childhood sexual abuse to bring their abusers to justice.
These revival statutes were enacted in response to the years-long advocacy of medical professionals, sexual abuse survivors and their families. As our society has become more aware of the prevalence of the sexual abuse of children, we have become more understanding of why it often takes so long for children to report their abuse. Victims of childhood sexual abuse are often overcome with feelings of shame, self-blame and fear. It is because of these complex emotions that abuse is often not reported until the survivor is an adult – well beyond the time for a traditional statute of limitations to run.
These statutes have been particularly costly for the Catholic Church. Experts estimate that as many as 5,000 new cases will be filed in New York and California alone resulting in over $4 billion paid out by the Catholic Church to settle clergy sex abuse cases since the first cases same to light in the 1980s.
As cases have begun to be filed across the country, many of the diocese have been driven to bankruptcy, just as they were in 2007 when the last round of statute of limitations were lifted by states to allow claims to proceed for abuse that had taken place years earlier. Most of the suits allege that the diocese knew that priests were abusing children but took no action to stop the abuse. Rather, the church covered it up and moved the priests from parish to parish without warning the new parishes or congregations of the allegations.
By signing revival statutes, these states have made it clear they will hold those responsible for the sexual abuse of a child accountable. To further encourage survivors to bring claims, many courts continue to allow claims to be brought anonymously, regardless of the age of the plaintiff at the time of the suit.
If you or someone you love was abused a child, allow us to help you obtain justice. The call is confidential and there is no obligation.
Jenn Liakos is based in our Los Angeles, California office where she has been practicing law for the past twenty years. Her practice focuses on personal injury and mass tort litigation, including pharmaceutical product liability and medical device litigation.
As an experienced litigator, Jenn has predominantly concentrated her practice on injuries affecting women and children. She was at the forefront of the SSRI antidepressant birth defect litigation for more than a decade fighting against big pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Forest Pharmaceuticals. She has also worked on cases involving injuries caused by vaginal mesh and toxic shock syndrome.
Jenn was appointed to the Plaintiffs Steering Committee for the Paxil Birth Defect Litigation and the Zoloft Birth Defect Litigation, prosecuting big pharmaceutical companies for failing to warn that SSRI antidepressants caused birth defects when taken during pregnancy. She has testified before the FDA advisory board on amending the regulations concerning generic manufacturer liability. She has also served on the Plaintiff Steering Committee for the Viagra, Abilify and 3M Litigations.
Jenn is a frequent teacher of deposition skills for the American Association of Justice. She was named as a Super Lawyer Rising Star in 2007 and 2008. She has been selected by her peers as a Super Lawyer every year since 2011. In 2020, she was named a Lawyer of Distinction in the area of Personal Injury Law.