The Michigan House Criminal Justice Committee has begun its hearings on the proposed Justice for Survivors bill package (see previous Grewal Law blog entry here). The bill would significantly expand the statute of limitations on sexual abuse lawsuits filed in civil courts, open a two-year lookback window for many criminal sexual conduct cases previously blocked by a statute of limitations, reduce governmental immunity in certain cases, and establish a Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, among several other provisions. In total, there are nine bills in the package that comprise the larger Justice for Survivors Act.
The hearings will review the Act and allow arguments for edits before official Michigan Congressional votes begin. Supporters of the Act see it as a way for Michigan law to “catch up” with several other states that have already taken recent measures to allow sexual abuse survivors to speak up and seek justice. Currently, Michigan law blocks child sexual abuse claims in civil courts from being filed after the survivor turns 28, or after three years pass from the time the survivor recognized that they had been abused. The Act acknowledges that the average survivor's age is 52 when they find the strength and ability to tell their stories, so the statute of limitations would be upgraded to the age of 52 (or seven years after the realization of the abuse).
Opponents of the Act see it as a government overreach to expand a statute of limitations so widely, regardless of the reasons behind it. However, opposition to the Act has not been very forceful, so it is expected to pass through the current hearings with few modifications. At that point, it will be ready for voting, where it is also expected to pass before being signed by Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
As one of Michigan’s premier sexual abuse law firms, Grewal Law is paying close attention to the Justice for Survivors Act as it enters hearings and should move forward through legislation. Please visit our blog often for more updates as information becomes available. If you need to talk to us now about filing a sexual abuse lawsuit, then contact us online or dial (888) 211-5798.