BUFFALO, N.Y. — In just one week, a long-awaited window will open for those who claim to be victims of child sex abuse, but who were previously denied the ability to seek legal retribution in New York State.
It’s all part of the Child Victims Act passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor earlier this year.
It will, for one year, essentially repeal the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse cases.
Members of the legal system, including attorneys and court personnel, conservatively predict that several thousand lawsuits will be filed statewide as a result of the Child Victims Act beginning August 14.
According to an attorney well versed with bringing such cases in other states which have adopted a CVA, the impact will likely be negligible.
“If there is anyone out there who is worried this will create a backlog and derail the criminal or civil justice system that would not be accurate,” said Michael T. Pfau of the Pfau Chochran Vertetis Amala Lawfirm in Seattle, Washington.
Pfau’s firm has partnered with the Marsh Law Firm of White Plains to represent 550 clients in New York State, including many in the Buffalo-area.
“We’ve seen this with asbestos cases and cases against drug companies where the courts have been quite adept at organizing cases in a logical and reasonable way and I fully expect that to happen in New York,” said Pfau, who also noted the large majority of such cases are settled without a trial.
“When they don’t resolve (settle) it’s usually not a good thing for the defendants because juries tend not to treat them well in sexual abuse cases,” Pfau said.
“Because New York’s Statutes have been so restrictive for so long, you’re going to see an outpouring of people come forward,” predicted Pfau.