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August 25, 2020

NYS Child Victim Act Look-Back Window Extended to August 14, 2021

Barclay Damon LLP previously reported on attempts to pass legislation, such as the Child Victims Act (CVA), that would expand the legal recourses available to sexual abuse victims. Last year, NYS Governor Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act to ensure survivors of childhood sexual abuse had the ability to file a case that had already been time-barred or expired for a one-year period.

The CVA would essentially increase the amount of time during which perpetrators could be held criminally accountable while simultaneously allowing victims of these crimes to commence civil lawsuits at any time before age 55. The CVA would also allow a one-year window for victims to commence their civil action against public and private institutions. That window to file an expired or time-barred case was set to close August 14 , but was extended until January 2021 by an executive order on May 8.

On August 3, Governor Cuomo signed legislation (S7082/A9036) extending the look-back window for victims to file claims under the CVA, regardless of when or how long ago the alleged abuse occurred. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse now have until August 14, 2021 to bring a civil action. The legislation followed calls for an extension of the look-back period in light of COVID-19-related court closures that curtailed victims’ right to file lawsuits under the CVA and narrowed the window in which survivors of childhood sex abuse were allowed to bring a civil action.

While extending the look-back window is meant to hold abusers accountable, critics believe the window will allow unlimited liability for the insureds. As courts begin to open and administrative orders are lifted post-COVID-19, insurers must keep apprised of claims arising from the CVA to ensure its insured’s interests are protected and all defenses are preserved.

If you have any questions regarding the content of this alert, please contact Brenda Baddam, associate, at bbaddam@barclaydamon.com or another member of the firm’s Torts & Products Liability Defense Practice Area.

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