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What is the statute of limitations in sex abuse cases?
In May 2013 the Minnesota State Legislature passed a bill known as the Child Victims Act. The bill received overwhelming bipartisan support in both the Minnesota House and Senate, and was signed into law by Governor Dayton on May 24, 2013.
The historic bill changed Minnesota’s statute of limitations applicable to civil claims for sexual abuse. Specifically, the new law expands the time-frame within which victims of childhood sexual abuse will be allowed to hold their perpetrators legally accountable, and makes it much more difficult for perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse to avoid justice by relying on the passage of time as a defense.
The language of the law passed in May 2013 is set forth as follows:
541.073 ACTIONS FOR DAMAGES DUE TO SEXUAL
Subdivision 1. Definition. As used in this section,
(1) “sexual abuse” means conduct described in sections 609.342 to 609.3451; and
(2) “person” includes a natural person, corporation, limited liability company, partnership, organization, association, or other entity.
Subd. 2. Limitations period. (a) An action for damages based on sexual abuse must be commenced within six years of the alleged sexual abuse in the case of alleged sexual abuse of an individual 18 years or older; (2) may be commenced at any time in the case of alleged sexual abuse of an individual under the age of 18, except as provided for in subdivision 4; and (3) must be commenced before the plaintiff is 24 years of age in a claim against a natural person alleged to have sexually abused a minor when that natural person was under 14 years of age.
(b) The plaintiff need not establish which act in a continuous series of sexual abuse acts by the defendant caused the injury.
(c) This section does not affect the suspension of the statute of limitations during a period of disability under section 541.15.
Subd. 3. Applicability. This section applies to an action for damages commenced against a person who was a cause of the plaintiff’s damages either by (1) committing sexual abuse against the plaintiff, or (2) negligence.
Subd. 4. Vicarious liability or respondeat superior claims. A claim for vicarious liability or liability under the doctrine of respondeat superior must be commenced within six years of the alleged sexual abuse, provided that if the plaintiff was under the age of 18 at the time of the alleged abuse, the claim must be commenced before the plaintiff is 24 years of age. This subdivision does not limit the availability of these claims under other law.
Subd. 5. Title. This section may be cited as the “Child Victims Act.”
EFFECTIVE DATE; APPLICABILITY. (a) This section is effective the day following final enactment. Except as provided in paragraph (b), this section applies to actions that were not time-barred before the effective date.
(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in the case of alleged sexual abuse of an individual under the age of 18, if the action would otherwise be time-barred under a previous version of Minnesota Statutes, section 541.073, or other time limit, an action for damages against a person, as defined in Minnesota Statutes, section 541.073, subdivision 1, clause (2), may be commenced no later than three years following the effective date of this section. This paragraph does not apply to a claim for vicarious liability or respondeat superior, but does apply to other claims, including negligence. This paragraph applies to actions pending on or commenced on or after the effective date.
If you have been sexually abused or assaulted and you have questions about how this law might apply to your situation, you are welcome to call our office for a free consultation.
The above discussion regarding the statute of limitations in sex abuse cases is accurate as of June 5, 2013. Laws change over time. If you are viewing this at a later date and you have questions about the statute of limitations for sex abuse claims you should consult a lawyer.
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At Hall Law, our attorneys are experts in sexual abuse litigation. If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual abuse or sexual assault you are welcome to call and talk with one of our experienced personal injury attorneys to discuss your legal options. Consultation with our attorneys is free and confidential.