Louisiana Lookback Window for Sexual Abuse Cases Found Unconstitutional


In a recent ruling from the Louisiana Supreme Court, the law that had previously allowed victims of childhood sexual abuse to file civil lawsuits has been overturned as unconstitutional.

The law, enacted by the Louisiana Legislature in 2021, opened a window for adult victims of childhood sexual abuse to file civil damage lawsuits regardless of when the incidents were alleged to have occurred. It provided victims of past abuse, whose deadlines for filing a civil lawsuit had expired, until June of 2024 to file a case.

The Louisiana’s Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the law was a split ruling, with a 4-3 vote, holding that:

"[A] defendant has a vested property right in accrued prescription. While we respect and understand the laudable intent of the legislation before us, we are constrained to find it runs afoul of the due process protections set forth in our constitution. Accordingly, we find that the legislature lacked the authority to revive the prescribed claims set forth under the facts alleged in this case," the ruling states. "On this basis, we further declare Sections 2 of Acts 322 and 386 are unconstitutional."

Louisiana is not the only state where such a law was found unconstitutional. A similar ruling came from the State of Utah back in 2020, and again in Colorado in 2023, and these revival windows continue to be challenged across the country, given the justice and equity issues of having to defend claims from decades ago.

The Louisiana Supreme Court’s decision represents a significant development for religious entities that could have faced numerous lawsuits under the previous law. To learn more about this topic, or if you have questions, please contact Michael A. Airdo at mairdo@airdowerwas.com or (312) 506-4480.

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