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New York State Senate Passes Adult Survivors Act For Victims of Sexual Assault

Author: Eve Soldatos, Esq.

Editor: Nicole Callahan, Esq.

On June 3, 2021, the New York State Senate passed Senate Bill S66, also known as the Adult Survivors Act. The Act would amend the civil practice law and rules in relation to the statute of limitations for civil actions related to certain sexual offenses committed against a person eighteen years of age or older, reviving any claim that would otherwise have been time-barred. Specifically, the Act states that a person can bring a civil claim or cause of action 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 that would constitute a sexual offense under Article 130 of the Penal Law. This includes, but is not limited to offenses such as rape, forcible touching, and sexual abuse. Additionally, the Act specifically includes incest as a basis to bring such civil claim or cause of action.  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. As such, a plaintiff will be able to revive such claim not earlier than six months after, and not later than one year and six months after the effective date of the Act. This essentially would establish a one-year look-back window for victims.

The Act passed in the Senate, with no votes against its passage. It will now move to the Assembly for voting. If passed in the Assembly, the Act will be sent to Governor Cuomo for signature or veto. If signed by Governor Cuomo, the Act will become law effective immediately. Should Governor Cuomo veto the bill, if passed in the Assembly under similar voting metrics as in the Senate, the law will likely still become law. Under New York law, a vetoed bill can become law if two-thirds of the members of each house vote to override the Governor’s veto.

This Act follows in the footsteps of the Child Victims Act, which was passed in 2019, creating a look-back window and allowing survivors of child sexual abuse a one-year period to sue institutions and individuals for compensation even if the statute of limitations has expired.  These Acts promulgated by the State Legislature indicate the recognition of the need for a remedy for survivors of sexual assault whose cases have been barred due to statutes of limitation.