On Friday, September 16, 2022, President Biden signed a bill that will eliminate the statute of limitations to file civil claims for those who were sexually abused as minors. Titled, The Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act, the bill was passed by the United States House of Representatives by a voice vote on Tuesday, September 20, 2022, after passing the US Senate by unanimous consent in March.
The bill eliminates any kind of time constraints for survivors to file civil claims related to sex abuse crimes against minors including sexual abuse, sex trafficking, sexual exploitation of children, and forced labor. Before the passing of the bill, minors who survived sexual abuse were able to file federal claims until a decade after the violation or injury was discovered or until they reached the age of 28.
Similar to the The Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed California Assembly Bill (AB) 2777 into law on Monday, September 19, 2022. Known as The Sexual Abuse and Cover Up Accountability Act, this new law extends the statute of limitations for anyone who was sexually assaulted on or after their 18th birthday.
The passage of AB 2777 amended Section 340.16 of the Code of Civil Procedure to read:
(a) In any civil action for recovery of damages suffered as a result of sexual assault, where the assault occurred on or after the plaintiff’s 18th birthday, the time for commencement of the action shall be the later of the following:
(1) Within 10 years from the date of the last act, attempted act, or assault with the intent to commit an act, of sexual assault against the plaintiff.
(2) Within three years from the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that an injury or illness resulted from an act, attempted act, or assault with the intent to commit an act, of sexual assault against the plaintiff.
(b) (1) As used in this section, “sexual assault” means any of the crimes described in Section 243.4, 261, 264.1, 286, 287, or 289, or former Sections 262 and 288a, of the Penal Code, assault with the intent to commit any of those crimes, or an attempt to commit any of those crimes.
(2) For the purpose of this section, it is not necessary that a criminal prosecution or other proceeding have been brought as a result of the sexual assault or, if a criminal prosecution or other proceeding was brought, that the prosecution or proceeding resulted in a conviction or adjudication. This subdivision does not limit the availability of causes of action permitted under subdivision (a), including causes of action against persons or entities other than the alleged person who committed the crime.
(3) This section applies to any action described in subdivision (a) that is based upon conduct that occurred on or after January 1, 2009, and is commenced on or after January 1, 2019, that would have been barred solely because the applicable statute of limitations has or had expired. Such claims are hereby revived and may be commenced until December 31, 2026. This subdivision does not revive any of the following claims:
(A) A claim that has been litigated to finality in a court of competent jurisdiction before January 1, 2023.
(B) A claim that has been compromised by a written settlement agreement between the parties entered into before January 1, 2023.
In more common language, AB 2777 revives any claims commenced on or after January 1, 2019, for acts of sexual assault that occurred on or after January 1, 2009, if claims were barred solely because of the expiration of the statute of limitations. In such cases, a plaintiff has until December 31, 2026, or three years from the bill’s effective date, to bring such a claim. Any claims that have been litigated to finality in court or have been resolved through a written settlement agreement would not qualify as being included as part of the new law.
Helping Survivors Seek Justice
The team at Estey & Bomberger applauds the passage of these two monumental laws. The Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act will help people who survived sexual abuse as minors achieve the justice they deserve, no matter how long ago the crimes they suffered occurred. While AB 2777 allows adult survivors of sexual assault in California who may have missed their chance to seek damages the ability to pursue a civil case against their abusers.
Sexual predators must be held accountable for their actions. If you or a loved one is a survivor of sexual abuse, we can help. Our trauma informed law firm provides more than first class legal counsel. To best serve the needs of our clients, our team includes certified sexual assault victim advocates who can help survivors work through their trauma so that they can begin the healing process. To learn more, or to schedule a confidential, free consultation with no obligations, contact us today.