Herman Herman & Katz lawyers support unlimited filing window for abuse survivors
NEW ORLEANS – The Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal has affirmed a lower-court ruling that upholds a state law that eliminated the statute of limitations – known as the prescription period – during which child sex abuse claims can be filed in Louisiana. The ruling clears the way for such claims to move forward in the courts.
The appellate court’s decision will have a major impact on hundreds of sexual abuse claims which have been filed in the federal bankruptcy case against the Archdiocese of New Orleans, as well as other unrelated abuse claims.
The case that sparked this decision was filed on behalf of a client who was sexually abused by a priest in the early 1960s when he was just 16 years old. That priest was never removed from active ministry and continued serving as a priest until his retirement in 1982. He died in 1985.
The trial lawyers with Herman Herman & Katz represent more sexual abuse survivors in the New Orleans archdiocese case than any other firm. The Louisiana Supreme Court in March approved the firm’s petition allowing the grace period provision to remain in place while the justices considered the case. This case was ultimately sent down to the Third Circuit Court, which affirmed the trial court ruling.
“It has been clearly demonstrated that many of these survivors suppress the trauma of what was done to them for years, even decades,” said Herman Herman & Katz partner Soren Gisleson. “Abusers should not be allowed the luxury of waiting for the clock to run out. These sorts of arbitrary windows of time have allowed them to do just that, and the time has come for these people to answer for the damage they’ve done. We are pleased with the court’s decision.”
The Louisiana law also gives victims of childhood sexual abuse until 2024 to sue regardless of their age. The Louisiana Legislature overwhelmingly approved the measure, and more than two dozen other states have passed similar laws in recent years that have been upheld time and again as constitutionally sound.
The case is Sam Doe v. The Society of the Roman Catholic Church of the Diocese of Lafayette, 22-120 in the Louisiana Court of Appeal, Third Circuit.
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