ASSEMBLY, No. 1126

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2010 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman  ELEASE EVANS

District 35 (Bergen and Passaic)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblyman Prieto, Assemblywoman Tucker, Assemblymen Chiappone, DeAngelo, Assemblywoman Rodriguez, Assemblyman Green, Assemblywoman Voss, Assemblymen Giblin, Johnson, Assemblywoman Vainieri Huttle, Assemblyman Mainor, Assemblywoman Watson Coleman and Assemblyman Biondi

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Extends the statute of limitations for certain sexual abuse cases.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel

  


An Act concerning certain civil actions alleging sexual abuse and supplementing Title 2A of the New Jersey Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    (New section) a. Notwithstanding the provisions of N.J.S.2A:14-2, a civil action brought pursuant to section 1 of P.L.1992, c.109 (C.2A:61B-1), section 1 of P.L.1959, c.90 (C.2A:53A-7) or P.L.2005, c. 264 (C.2A:53A-7.4 and 2A:53A-7.5) for causes of action as set forth in subsection b. of this section which would otherwise be barred on or before January 1, 2009, solely because the applicable statute of limitations has expired, is revived and may be commenced within one year immediately following January 1, 2010.  As of January 1, 2011 these claims may not be brought under the provisions of this act.

     b.    The provisions of this section shall apply to any of the following causes of action:

     (1)   where a person committed an act of sexual abuse against another; or

     (2)   where a person or entity  knew,  or had reason to know, of any unlawful sexual conduct by an employee, agent, servant or volunteer and failed to take reasonable steps, and to implement reasonable safeguards, to avoid acts of unlawful sexual conduct in the future by that person, including but not limited to preventing or avoiding placement of that person in a function or environment in which contact with children is an inherent part of that function or environment.  For purposes of this section, providing or requiring counseling is not sufficient, in and of itself, to constitute a reasonable step or reasonable safeguard.

     c.     This section shall not apply to either of  the following:

     (1)   Any claim that has been litigated to finality on the merits in any court of competent jurisdiction prior to or on January 1, 2009. Termination of a prior action on the basis of the statute of limitations does not constitute a claim that has been litigated to finality on the merits.

     (2)   Any written, compromised settlement agreement which has been entered into between a plaintiff and a defendant where the plaintiff was represented by an attorney who was admitted to the practice of law in this State at the time of the settlement, and the plaintiff signed the agreement.

     d.    The provisions of this section shall apply to all pending claims, including any action which has been filed with a court but not yet dismissed, settled or finally adjudicated as of the effective date of this act.

     e.     Nothing in this section limits the availability of causes of action permitted under this section including causes of action
against persons or entities other than the alleged perpetrator of the abuse.

     f.     Nothing in this section shall be construed to establish any rule, or alter any existing rule, with respect to the burden of proof and weight of evidence.

 

     2.    This act shall take effect immediately.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     Under the current provisions of N.J.S.A.2A:14-2 an action for recovery of damages for personal injury must be commenced within two years of the date the cause of action accrues.

     Under the provisions of N.J.S.A.2A:61B-1 an action for damages for suffered as a result of childhood sexual abuse must be commenced within two years of the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that the psychological injury or illness  was caused by sexual abuse.

     This bill would supplement the current law to provide victims of childhood sexual abuse who would have otherwise been barred on or before  January 1, 2010 from bring an action, solely because the statute of limitations had expired, with a one-year window of opportunity to bring a civil action. The bill provides that these claims may not be brought after January 1, 2011.

     Under the provisions of the bill the victim could bring a civil action against the person who committed the act or against a person or entity who knew or had reason to know of any unlawful sexual conduct by an employee, agent, servant or volunteer and who failed to take reasonable steps, and to implement reasonable safeguards, to avoid acts of unlawful sexual conduct in the future by that person, including, but not limited to, preventing or avoiding placement of that person in a function or environment in which contact with children is an inherent part of that function or environment. The bill provides that providing or requiring counseling is not sufficient, in and of itself, to constitute a reasonable step or reasonable safeguard.

     The provisions of the bill would not apply to any claim that has been litigated to finality on the merits in any court of competent jurisdiction prior to or on January 1, 2009 or to any claim which has been settled. The bill provides that termination of a prior action on the basis of the statute of limitations does not constitute a claim that has been litigated to finality on the merits.