Beginning on March 1, 2023, the statute of limitations for allegations under New York City’s Victims of Gender-Motivated Protection Law (“VGMVPL”) will be extended for two years to afford alleged victims of gender motivated violence a two-year lookback window to bring a civil action for claims that have been previously time barred. Individuals will have from March 1, 2023 to March 1, 2025 to commence a civil suit against such alleged wrongdoers and institutions where they may seek compensatory and punitive damages, injunctive and declaratory relief, attorney’s fees and costs, and such other relief as a court may deem appropriate under VGMVPL for participation in such crimes.
Based upon the recognition that “[g]ender motivated violence inflicts serious physical, psychological, emotional and economic harm on its victims”, and Congressional findings that gender-motivated violence is “the leading cause of injuries to women ages 15 to 44,” the VGMVPL provides civil recourse and potential monetary recovery to “any person claiming to be injured by a party who commits, directs, enables, participates in, or conspires in the commission of a crime of violence motivated by gender.” Currently, the statute of limitations under VGMVPL is seven years, but may be extended to nine years in limited circumstances, including infancy or injury and disability resulting from the alleged offense. The lookback window will provide an opportunity for individuals to file claims based upon events from years or even decades ago.
The VGMVPL’s impending lookback window is part of a growing national trend to provide alleged sexual abuse survivors with lookback windows to file civil claims based on their alleged sexual abuse.
Similarly, New York’s Adult’s Survivors Act also creates a one-year lookback window that begins on November 24, 2022. Much like the upcoming lookback window under VGMVPL, this window will provide a one-year window for alleged survivors of sexual assault that occurred when they were over the age of 18 to sue their alleged abusers, as well as entities or institutions that allegedly enabled the alleged sexual abuse and/or whose premises served as the location where the alleged abuse occurred, regardless of when the abuse occurred.
Additionally, we have reported previously about the “revival period” related to the statute of limitations pertaining to New York’s Child Victims Act (the “CVA”). There, the law created a lookback window to file civil claims against institutions and individuals for sexual crimes allegedly committed when the plaintiff was under 18 years old that would otherwise have been time-barred by the statute of limitations. The CVA’s lookback window led to over 10,000 cases being filed in New York State Courts.
In preparation for the VGMVPL lookback window, employers should implement best practices. These include reviewing insurance policies to determine if there is possible coverage for a civil action based on sexual abuse; attempting to locate insurance policies that would have been in effect at the time of the alleged abuse; unearthing old policies and procedures for investigating internal sexual assault and/or sexual harassment allegations; locating documents relating to prior sexual harassment and sexual assault internal investigations; and uncovering the locations of personnel files and the contact information of long-departed employees.
*Naomi Friedman, a Law Clerk – Admission Pending (not admitted to the practice of law) in the firm’s New York office, contributed to the preparation of this post.