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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 26, 2022

NYS Adult Survivors Act Signed Into Law, Reviving Claims of Sexual Abuse for Adult Victims

On May 24, 2022, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul signed into law the Adult Survivors Act (ASA), which creates a one-year lookback window for survivors of instances of sexual assault that occurred when they were over 18 years old to sue their abusers, regardless of how much time has passed since the abuse occurred. Similar to the Child Victims Act, passed in 2019, the ASA expands the ability of victims of sexual abuse to file a lawsuit against their alleged perpetrators, regardless of when the offenses occurred or if the applicable statute of limitations period has expired.

More particularly, the ASA amends the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules by adding a new section providing that any sexual abuse claim by a person who was at least 18 years old at the time the abuse occurred that was previously barred by the statute of limitations is “hereby revived.” Victims have a one-year lookback period during which they may file suit based upon these claims. The lookback period begins in November 2022, six months after the effective date of the ASA. Importantly, the new law does not change existing statute of limitations periods: one year for intentional tort claims and three years for negligence claims, running from the date that the abuse occurred.

The ASA further provides that for any sexual abuse claims that were previously dismissed as time-barred, or for failure to file a notice of claim, the dismissal cannot be grounds for the dismissal of any revival lawsuit. These claims are entitled to a trial preference as well.

As with the Child Victims Act, the new ASA is certain to increase the number of claims filed against perpetrators of sexual abuse as well as claims against employers, churches, schools, and municipalities for negligent hiring, supervision, and retention of alleged perpetrators. A number of evidentiary issues related to missing or deceased witnesses, destroyed documentary evidence, and discovery concerning acts that took place decades ago are likely to be raised with respect to these new claims. These claims also may raise various insurance coverage issues, including when coverage is triggered, the scope of sexual abuse exclusions, and the number of occurrences at issue where there are multiple victims or the alleged abuse took place over extended periods of time.

Barclay Damon will continue to monitor the impact of the ASA on new claims in New York State. 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 Sanjeev Devabhakthuni, partner, at; Tony Piazza, Insurance Coverage & Regulation Practice Area chair, at; Tom Cronmiller, Professional Liability Practice Area chair, at; Matthew Larkin, Torts & Products Liability Defense Practice Area chair, at; Carol Snider, Mass & Toxic Torts Practice Area chair, at; or another member of the firm’s Insurance Coverage & Regulation, Professional Liability, Torts & Products Liability Defense, or Mass & Toxic Torts Practice Areas.

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