Lackawanna County Court Extends Statute of Limitations Expansion of Sexual Abusers to Include their Corporate Employers

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The Court of Common Pleas of Lackawanna County in J.C. v. Horizon Medical Corp. recently addressed the issue of the statute of limitations in a civil case against the employer of an alleged sexual abuser. The facts of the case involve a doctor who allegedly sexually abused a student in the office of his medical practice in June of 2018. In November of 2019 Section 5533(b)(2) of the Judicial Code, 42 Pa. C.S.A was amended to extend the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania to the 30th birthday of the plaintiff. The student filed a complaint in February of 2020 against the doctor and his employer, Horizon Medical Corp.

Horizon tried to dismiss the case asserting that the student’s claims against the Corporation were barred because the November 2019 amendment to the statute extended the statute of limitations period only to the alleged abuser and not the abuser’s principals or institutional employers as the suit was filed more than two years after the event. No statutory or decisional authority was proffered in support of this contention. Judge Nealon considered the plain language of the statute and its legislative history concluding “the expanded statute of limitations period was intended to apply not only to the individual offenders, but also their alleged institutional enablers and principals.” Judge Nealon found there was no intent to exclude employers, corporations, or other institutions from the expansion of the limitations period, regardless of whether they are vicariously or directly liable for the actionable indecent contact

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