.) Paul, you see, is suing his neighbor for both, no less “in compensatory and punitive damages for his medical treatment and ongoing discomfort.” (Paul’s neighbor, Rene Boucher, pled guilty to felony assault, having attacked Paul as he hopped off his lawnmower.)(Update: over half a million dollars.)
How fortunate that Paul, a leader in the “repeal Obamacare movement” who’s about to travel to socialized-medicine-Canada for hernia surgery (yes, ), doesn’t live in neighboring Ohio or Tennessee. Those states , protecting assailants and criminals who commit assault. A few years ago, we showed how devastating caps on damages can be to an Ohio assault victim:
“Jessica Simpkins was raped at the age of 15 by her church pastor – a man hired by Grace Brethren Church in Sunbury despite the knowledge that he had previously sexually abused two girls. In a civil suit, a jury awarded Simpkins $3.5 million for pain and suffering, but the amount was reduced to $250,000 due to a state law that caps damages.”
This is one of the dirty little secrets of “tort reform.” When a state caps damages, it usually covers every kind of personal injury case, including when injuries are the result of a criminal assault. That includes situations where your neighbor beats you up. It also includes cases of sexual assault. It also includes the sexual assault of children. Which brings us to our next story.
When it comes to sexual assault especially of children, there is another tort limit that often blocks the ability of survivors to sue: overly-restrictive state statutes of limitations. someone to file a lawsuit within a very short period of time of their assault. Gradually, states are starting to lift those restrictions for sexual assault survivors – particularly for child victims. New York is the big story on this today.
For years, as we’ve covered before, the New York Senate had the Child Victims Act (which the Governor will sign soon):
The Child Victims Act will allow child victims to seek prosecution against their abuser until the age of 55 in civil cases, a significant increase from the previous limit of age 23. For criminal cases, victims can seek prosecution until they turn 28. The bill also includes a one-year window during which victims of any age or time limit can come forward to prosecute.
"New York has just gone from being one of the worst states in the country to being one of the best," in terms of the statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases, said Marci Hamilton, CEO of Child USA and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.
Fortunately, New York does not cap damages for injury victims. But too many states do. Time to start changing those laws, too.