Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Court Finds Extension of Statute of Limitations in Sex Abuse Civil Cases Also Applies to Related Employers of Perpetrators

In the case of J.C. v. Horizon Medical Corp., No. 20-CV-1222 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Oct. 8, 2021 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas addressed a number of issues relating to sex abuse claims in a civil litigation matter.

According to the Opinion, an allergist allegedly sexually abused a student in his medical practice office.

After Section 5533(b)(2) of the Judicial Code, 42 Pa. C.S.A., was amended effective November 26, 2019, to extend the applicable statute of limitations to the Plaintiff’s 30th birthday, the student filed a Complaint against the allergist and his corporate employer.

The corporate employer filed a demurrer asserting that the student’s claims were time barred since the statute of limitations period that was extended by the amendment go the law should only apply to the individual perpetrators and not their employers. The employer also argued that the amendment to the loss could not be applied retroactively to revive her lapsed claim.

Judge Nealon disagreed and noted that the plain language of §5533, and its legislative history, supported the conclusion that the expanded statute of limitations period was intended to apply not only to the individual offenders, but also their alleged institutional enablers and principals.

The court otherwise ruled on other issues that the Plaintiff’s allegations in support of her fraud and punitive damages claims were sufficiently specific to provide the allergist and his employer with adequate notice of the claims against which they must defend.

Judge Nealon also noted that allegations in the Plaintiff’s Complaint regarding alleged issues between the allergist and another student were relevant to the issue of whether the employer knew or should have known of the necessity for greater supervision and monitoring of the doctor. As such, Judge Nealon denied the argument that such allegations constituted scandalous or impertinent matter and allowed those allegations to proceed.

In the end, the court overruled all of the Preliminary Objections asserted.

Anyone wishing to review this decision may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney Robert T. Moran of the Moran Law Group, LLC in Scranton, PA for bringing this case to my attention.

Source of image:  Photo by Edgar Moran on Unsplash.com.

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