Skip to Main Content
Services Talent Knowledge
Site Search
Menu

Alert

Our attorneys stay on top of changes in legislation, agency regulations, case law, and industry trends—then craft timely legal alerts to keep clients up to date on legal developments important to their business.

May 5, 2023

Child Victims Act's Revival Provisions Withstand Constitutional Challenge

In 2019, New York State enacted the Child Victims Act (CVA) (see our prior legal alert), which expanded the rights of victims of sexual abuse to bring civil claims against their abusers at any time before the victim turns 55 years old. One of the CVA’s provisions was recently challenged as unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the New York State Constitution. 

The challenged provision made it possible to “revive” certain sexual abuse claims committed against a child that were previously barred by the statute of limitations. Victims had a one-year lookback period from the enactment of the CVA to file suit based upon these claims. This lookback period was subsequently extended to two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In PB-36 Doe v. Niagara Falls City Sch. Dist.,1  the plaintiff commenced the action according to the CVA alleging sexual abuse by a junior high school teacher in the 1980s. The defendants moved to dismiss the complaint as time-barred because the CVA was unconstitutional and could not serve to revive the plaintiff’s claims. The trial court denied the defendant’s motion.

On appeal, the Appellate Division, Fourth Department cited the well-established precedent that a claim-revival statute will satisfy the Due Process Clause if it was enacted as a reasonable response to remedy an injustice. With respect to the injustice prong, the court recognized that these kinds of moral determinations are left to the elected branches of government. The legislative history of the CVA revealed that child sexual abuse survivors often sustain mental, physical, and emotional injuries that prevent them from disclosing their abuse until later in life and, consequently, after the statute of limitations had expired. This left “thousands of survivors” unable to seek justice against their abusers, which the legislature determined was an identifiable injustice that need to be remedied. 

In opposition, the defendants argued that the injustice prong was not satisfied because not all survivors encounter the same barriers to timely disclosing their abuse and could have brought timely claims. The court rejected this argument and found that the Court of Appeals has never set forth a requirement that all plaintiffs covered by a claim-revival statute must have been unable to timely commence an action. 

The Fourth Department held that legislative history underlying the CVA evidenced the need for justice for past and future survivors of child sexual abuse. Correspondingly, the court found that the two-year lookback period was a reasonable response to remedy the injustice. Accordingly, the CVA comports with the requirements of the Due Process Clause.

Barclay Damon will continue to monitor the impact of the CVA and the related provisions enacted in the Adult Survivors Act (ASA) (see our prior legal alert) on litigation throughout New York State. In particular, the ASA contains a similar revival and lookback provision, which will remain open until November 2023. Our attorneys have significant experience with respect to the liability, damage, and insurance coverage issues pertaining to these claims.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Julie Cahill, associate, at jcahill@barclaydamon.com; Matthew Larkin, Torts & Products Liability Defense Practice Area chair, at mlarkin@barclaydamon.com; or another member of the firm’s Torts & Products Liability Defense Practice Area. 

12023 N.Y. Slip Op. 00598 (4th Dep’t, February 3, 2023).

Subscribe

Click here to sign up for alerts, blog posts, and firm news.

Featured Media

Alerts

Fourth Department Finds Language in 1980 Statute Is Gender Neutral for Purposes of Child Victims Act

Alerts

Priority of Federal Tax Lien on Personal Property: Secured Lender vs. IRS

Alerts

COVID-19 Business Interruption Update: New York High Court Affirms in Favor of Insurer

Alerts

USFWS Introduces General Permit for Bald and Golden Eagle Incidental Take

Alerts

ORES Executive Director Issues First Denial of Section 94-C Permit Application Following Applicant's Partial Loss of Site Control

Alerts

New Details About OPWDD Spending in the New York State FY 2025 Executive Budget

We're Growing in DC!

We’re excited to announce Barclay Damon’s combination with Washington DC–based Shapiro, Lifschitz & Schram. SLS’s 10 lawyers, three paralegals, and four administrative staff will join Barclay Damon while maintaining their current office in DC’s central business district. Our clients will benefit from SLS’s corporate, real estate, finance, and construction litigation experience and national energy-industry profile, and their clients from our full range of services.

Read More

This site uses cookies to give you the best experience possible on our site and in some cases direct advertisements to you based upon your use of our site.

By clicking [I agree], you are agreeing to our use of cookies. For information on what cookies we use and how to manage our use of cookies, please visit our Privacy Statement.

I AgreeOpt-Out