California Set to Pass AB 2777 Sexual Abuse And Cover-Up Accountability Act, Opening Window for New Lawsuits

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California AB 2777 Sexual Abuse And Cover-Up Accountability Act to Open 3-Year Window for Previously Barred Claims

California AB 2777 Sexual Abuse And Cover-Up Accountability Act to Open 3-Year Window for Previously Barred Claims

Sep 9, 2022

California representatives have taken legislative action which could help countless survivors of sexual assault and abuse secure justice. With the passage of Assembly Bill 2777 last month by the California State Senate, adult survivors of sexual assault are now one step closer to having an opportunity to file civil claims for damages related to crimes that were otherwise barred by an expired statute of limitations.

California Set to Pass AB 2777 Sexual Abuse And Cover-Up Accountability Act, Opening Window for New Lawsuits

Known as the Sexual Abuse And Cover-Up Accountability Act, California Assembly Bill 2777 (AB 2777) has been presented to Governor Gavin Newsom and is expected to be signed into law in the coming days.

If enacted, California AB 2777 would take effect on January 1, 2023, and provide a three-year window for survivors of sexual assault to file claims for financial compensation as a result of crimes which occurred on or after January 1, 2009. In other words, sexual assault and abuse claims which would otherwise be barred by the statute of limitations would officially be eligible to be brought in civil court through December 31, 2026.

How Would AB 2777 Impact Survivors of Sexual Assault and Abuse?

The California Code of Civil Procedure (CCP) 340.16 allows a survivor to file a lawsuit seeking to recover financial damages up to 10 years from the date of the last act or attempted act, or within three years from the date the survivor discovers (or reasonably should have discovered) that an injury illness resulted from that act (whichever is later).

Under AB 2777, claims would automatically be revived for acts of sexual assault that occurred on or after January 1, 2009, provided that those claims were barred solely because of the expiration of the statute of limitations.

The text from the legislation reads as follows:

“This bill would, until December 31, 2026, revive claims seeking to recover damages suffered as a result of a sexual assault that occurred on or after January 1, 2009, that would otherwise be barred solely because the statute of limitations has or had expired. The bill would additionally revive claims seeking to recover damages suffered as a result of a sexual assault that occurred on or after the plaintiff’s 18th birthday when one or more entities are legally responsible for damages and the entity or their agents engaged in a cover up, as defined, and any related claims, that would otherwise be barred prior to January 1, 2023, solely because the applicable statute of limitations has or had expired, and would authorize a cause of action to proceed if already pending in court on the effective date of the bill or, if not filed by the effective date of the bill, to be commenced between January 1, 2023, and December 31, 2023. The bill would not revive claims that have been litigated to finality before January 1, 2023, and claims that have been compromised by written settlement agreements entered into before January 1, 2023. The bill would specify the required allegations to state a claim subject to revival under these provisions.”

This means that, beginning January 1, 2023 (expected date), sexual assault survivors will be able to bring claims as plaintiffs in civil court seeking financial compensation until December 31, 2026 (or three years from the bill’s effective date) for crimes occurring on or after January 1, 2009 (provided those claims were never previously litigated or resolved).

In other words, under AB 2777, California survivors will have an unprecedented window of opportunity to secure justice on their own terms for crimes such as rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and all other forms of sexual violence.

AB 2777 was authored by Buffy Wicks, Assemblymember from California’s 15th District. It is currently awaiting the signature of Governor Gavin Newsom.

AB 2777 Opens One-Year Window for Cover-Up Claims Against Employers

In addition to the above referenced provisions within AB 2777, the new legislation would create a one-year revival window allowing a plaintiff to bring a claim for crimes involving cover-ups that would otherwise be barred because the statute of limitations expired.

For such a claim to qualify under AB 2777’s one-year lookback window provision, the plaintiff would have to allege the following:

  • She or he was sexually assaulted.
  • One or more entities are legally responsible for damages stemming from that sexual assault (which can be demonstrated through, inter alia, negligence, intentional torts, and vicarious liability).
  • Said entities – which may include employees, officers, directors, representatives, or agents – engaged in a cover-up or attempted cover-up of a previous instance or allegation of sexual assault by an alleged perpetrator of such abuse.

Again, a sexual assault survivor plaintiff would have until December 31, 2023, to bring such a claim under California’s AB 2777 legislation.

A cover-up is defined under AB 2777 as:

“A concerted effort to hide evidence relating to a sexual assault that incentivizes individuals to remain silent or prevents information relating to a sexual assault from becoming public or being disclosed to the plaintiff, including, but not limited to, the use of nondisclosure agreements or confidentiality agreements.”

Furthermore, it’s important for survivors to be aware that AB 2777 explicitly revives related claims for wrongful termination and sexual harassment based on incidents of sexual assault (provided that those claims have not been previously litigated in court or resolved through a financial settlement).

Will AB 2777 Lead to an Increase in Sexual Assault Claims?

The Dordulian Law Group team of sexual assault attorneys expects Governor Gavin Newsom to sign Assembly Bill 2777 into law. Accordingly, we anticipate a substantial increase in the number of sexual assault claims being filed between January 1, 2023 and December 31, 2026 for a variety of crimes, including sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and related wrongful termination incidents.

AB 2777 is legislation similar to the landmark AB 218 childhood sexual abuse law that was passed in 2019 and took effect in January 0f 2020. Under AB 218, all survivors of childhood sexual abuse are currently eligible to file claims seeking financial compensation through the end of 2022, regardless of how long ago the crimes committed against them occurred.

At Dordulian Law Group (DLG), we have seen a significant increase in the number of childhood sexual abuse claims filed under AB 218. AB 2777 represents a similar opportunity for survivors – specifically those who were adults when the crimes against them occurred – to secure justice through civil lawsuits in pursuit of financial damages.

DLG’s founder and president, Sam Dordulian, hailed the passage of AB 2777 as “important and necessary” legislation that could positively impact countless survivors of sexual assault and abuse.

“We’ve seen the importance of revival windows in securing justice for childhood survivors with the passage of AB 218. AB 2777 is an equally important step in helping adult survivors of sexual violence obtain the justice they deserve without being deterred by the statute of limitations. I truly hope Governor Newsom signs this bill into law – the positive impact it will have on survivors simply can’t be overstated,” Dordulian said.

Can I File My Sexual Assault Claim Now in Anticipation of AB 2777?

DLG’s sexual assault lawyers are standing by to discuss your case and begin the process of filing your claim under AB 2777 immediately. We fully expect Governor Gavin Newsom to sign the bill into law, and encourage survivors to file their claims as soon as possible to ensure swift justice.

If you are a survivor of sexual assault and would like to pursue a financial damages award in civil court, experienced attorneys within DLG’s Sex Crimes Division are ready to fight aggressively on your behalf to obtain the justice you deserve – even if your crime occurred long ago.

Contact a DLG California AB 2777 Sexual Assault Lawyer Today

DLG offers survivors of sexual assault a unique form of representation and support which aims to address multiple needs throughout the litigation process. Our SAJE Team (Sexual Assault Justice Experts) is dedicated to fighting for justice on behalf of survivors, providing an all-encompassing type of legal representation that can’t be found at other firms.

Our four-tiered SAJE Team approach includes:

  • Representation by Sam Dordulian, a former sex crimes prosecutor, and his team of proven sexual assault lawyers
  • Access to two licensed and nationally accredited in-house victim advocates
  • Access to a licensed in-house clinical therapist with over 15 years of experience
  • A retired LAPD sex crimes detective with over 30 years of experience investigating your case

As a former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, Sam Dordulian has been fighting on behalf of sexual assault survivors for more than 25 years. Moreover, together with Dordulian, DLG’s California sexual assault attorneys have helped countless survivors secure maximum financial damages awards for claims against both individual perpetrators and major entities.

Some of our recent sexual assault and abuse victories demonstrate the type of dedication to professionalism and excellence we apply to each and every case:

When you choose DLG to handle your AB 2777 sexual abuse claim, you won’t have to worry about upfront costs or out-of-pocket expenses. We never collect any fee for our expert legal services until after we successfully secure maximum financial compensation for you.

Our Sexual Assault Justice Experts are here to help survivors secure justice. Contact our top-rated attorneys online or by phone for a free consultation today.

DLG’s proven, trusted, and dedicated Los Angeles sexual assault and abuse attorneys have secured more than $100,000,000 in settlements and verdicts for survivors while maintaining a near-perfect 98% win record.

If you’re a survivor of sexual violence, we’re here to fight for justice on your behalf. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation at 818-322-4056. We’re available 24/7 to answer any questions you have about filing a claim under California AB 2777.

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