On May 24, Governor Hochul signed into law the Adult Survivors Act (A648/S66) (the “Act”). The Act amends New York’s Civil Practice Law and Rules (“CPLR”) to temporarily revive any claim that would otherwise have been time-barred for civil actions related to certain sexual offenses committed against a person eighteen years of age or older. Specifically, the Act states that during a one-year window, a person can bring a civil claim for injuries suffered as a result of conduct that would constitute a sexual offense under Article 130 of the Penal Law. This includes offenses such as rape, forcible touching, and sexual abuse. Additionally, the Act specifically includes incest as a basis to bring a civil claim.  The sexual offense or incest must have been committed against a person who was eighteen years of age or older and was previously time-barred because the statute of limitations had expired.

Effective Date

Under the Act, a plaintiff will be able to revive a claim not earlier than six months after, and not later than one year and six months after, the effective date of the Act. Because the law was signed on May 24, 2022 individuals can initiate lawsuits beginning on November 24, 2022 and ending on November 24, 2023. In any such claim, dismissal of a previous action on grounds that the previous action was time barred cannot be grounds for dismissal of a revival action. Relatedly, we note that in 2019 the New York legislature extended the statute of limitations by 20 years for certain civil lawsuits pertaining to sex crimes; however, that law was not applied retroactively.

Sexual Offense

The Act states that a person can bring a civil claim against another party, alleging “intentional or negligent acts or omissions by a person for physical, psychological, or other injury or condition suffered as a result of conduct” which would constitute a sexual offense under Article 130 of the Penal Law. See 66A (revising §214-j of the CPLR). Under Article 130 of the Penal Law, the term sexual offense encompasses rape (oral, vaginal, and anal), forcible touching, and sexual abuse.

Trial Preference

The Adult Survivors Act establishes special trial preference for efficient resolution of cases filed pursuant to the Act. Specifically, the Act requires that the New York Chief Administrative Judge of the Office of Court Administration promulgate rules concerning the timely adjudication of claims revived by the Act. The Act notes that such rules shall take effect three months after the Act has become law.

* * *

We note that the Adult Survivors Act was modeled on New York’s Child Victims Act, which was enacted in August of 2019. The Child Victims Act similarly permitted a one-year window for individuals who were previously outside the statute of limitations to assert civil claims of child abuse against both individuals and institutions. In August 2020, the Child Victims Act’s “revival period,” which was originally scheduled to close in August 2020, was extended through August 13, 2021. Over ten thousand cases were filed in New York State courts under the Child Victims Act.

Like what occurred in the wake of the Child Victim’s Act, we similarly expect to see a significant number of cases filed once the Adult Survivors Act takes effect. And in addition to permitting claims against abusers, the Adult Survivors Act likely opens claims against institutions for acts of negligence related to the sexual offense as well. See, e.g., Doe v. Poly Prep Country Day Sch., No. 20-CV-03628, 2021 WL 4310891, at *12 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 22, 2021) (Child Victims Act revives negligent hiring, retention, and supervision claims against school at a motion to dismiss); C.M. v. Est. of Archibald, No. 20-CV-751 (VSB), 2022 WL 1030123, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 6, 2022) (Child Victims Act revives time-barred claim and enables negligent supervision and retention claim against boys and girls club to proceed); Pisula v. Roman Cath. Archdiocese of New York, 201 A.D.3d 88, 105 (2021) (negligence claims against church proceed due to revival under Child Victims Act).

Kaplan Hecker & Fink will continue to monitor developments under the Act.

For further information about this or related matters, please contact:  Robbie Kaplan (rkaplan@kaplanhecker.com), Julie Fink (jfink@kaplanhecker.com), or Shawn Crowley (scrowley@kaplanhecker.com)