Hurry up and wait: Lawyers, survivors see little motion on early CVA cases

Times Union

ALBANY – Six months after the Child Victims Act went into effect, survivors and lawyers say hundreds of lawsuits have stalled in the pre-trial discovery stages.

In August, the act opened a one-year look-back period temporarily eliminating the civil statute of limitations on child sex abuse cases, allowing survivors of all ages to lodge lawsuits against their alleged offenders. The first filing day, Aug. 14, saw more than 400 lawsuits – and there have been about 1,000 more statewide in the months since.

But as attorneys await evidence from defendants, several cases have reached an impasse, leaving survivors waiting far after the closure of the look-back window to take their cases to trial or pursue settlements. Only a handful of cases have been settled, and the earliest trials are expected to take place in 2021 – but some have been scheduled as far as out 2023, attorneys said.

"We hear mostly from clients – in any case – it’s a longer process than a person who’s not in the legal system expects or wants," said Jennifer Freeman, an attorney with Marsh Law Firm, which has offices in Manhattan and White Plains. "You think you can go to trial in a few months, and it just doesn’t work like that."

The Marsh Law Firm has filed about 50 cases under the Child Victims Act and expects to file hundreds more before the end of the look-back period, Freeman said. She said her firm has settled a small number of cases, particularly with Rockefeller University, but most settlement discussions will begin after evidence has been collected, which can take months or years.

"The cases are still very early in each of their lives," she said.

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Filed Under  Catholic Church  Child Victims Act (CVA)  Childhood Sexual Abuse  News 

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